Archive for category Web

The Basics of SEO

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Now that you’ve learned what SEO is and how it can be useful to your business, it’s important to understand the basics and how to apply SEO to your site.

Relevance is Key

As mentioned before, it’s important to have relevant information on your webpage. If you fail to have content that relates to the purpose of your site, then it’s not doing its job and you’re missing out on competing business. This is where SEO comes to the rescue!

Here are the 4 basic steps you need to follow:

  1. Examine your pages for content and choose key phrases or words that describe them so the web crawlers can index and find your content.
  2. Apply optimization to not only the pages, but also images links, and social media.
  3. Create and add more desirable content to draw and retain visitors.
  4. Collect statistics and traffic and continually monitor and update your pages.

Web Crawlers

Are you wondering what a web crawler is? It’s the automated program used by search engines to “crawl” the web and discover its extensive amount of pages. It’s the first step in applying SEO to your website and it’s why the rest of the steps exist. Once you know the basic steps of SEO, you’re ready to learn the benefits!

Have questions? The entire CEA Marketing Group team is SEO certified and can provide you with the answers to your marketing concerns. Make sure to follow us and keep checking in for our next SEO insider, or other digital media tips!

 

 

 

 

 

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What is SEO?

What is SEO

Let’s start with the most important question: What is SEO anyways?

SEO is the process of improving your website and its individual pages to increase visibility and improve your position in organic search engine rankings. The better your SEO is, the easier it will be for potential customers to find your site when searching for keywords related to your industry or business!

SEO involves writing pages with keywords, links, and constantly updating a site. It’s important to have quality content over quantity. If you have a site with a lot of keywords and links but none of the material is relevant to your site then your website will appear lower on search engine results.  You want to use good links that work and pertain to your site. This goes the same for keywords.

There are 2 types of SEO. Black Hat SEO, and good SEO is known as White Hat SEO:

1. White Hat SEO – White Hat SEO is a method that takes full advantage of SEO techniques. These techniques include having high quality content, research, and out reach. It might take a little longer, but taking the ethical route to SEO can give you long-lasting growth in rankings.

2. Black Hat SEO – With Black Hat SEO, you are taking the easier or morally wrong route.  Black Hat SEO violates search engine guidelines.  Examples of this type of SEO include: hidden links, text, and keyword stuffing to name a few. Ratings may shoot up but don’t last and are unpredictable.

Occasionally there can be Gray Hat SEO. This deals with search engines offering affordable pricing in exchange for results. The techniques are sometimes borderline Black Hat and ignore using the traditional highly involved campaign activities. Even though you might see immediate results, don’t bother messing with them! It won’t help your business in the long run!

CEA Marketing Group gives you the advantage. Everyone from our account managers to the creative departments have been trained in SEO strategies and techniques, ensuring a consistent and targeted campaign from start to finish! Ready to start? CLICK here or give us a call at 727.523.8044!

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Spring Into SEO!

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SEO stands for search engine optimization. Businesses want to appear as high as possible on a search results page when people search keywords in Google and other search engines. Good SEO helps ensure that consumers will be able to see your website over your competitors.

SEO can be traced all the way back to the 1990s when it was merely a small “spider” crawling on your page for links. It has come a long way since then and today, it is a major online marketing tool.

For the next couple weeks we will go more in depth to what SEO is and how you can start the process for yourself.

The 3 main topics we will cover are:

  • What is SEO?
  • The basic steps of SEO.
  • Why is SEO important?

Be sure to keep checking back to learn more about SEO! Every member of Team CEA is SEO certified, ensuring that your campaign is optimized from start to finish! Visit our website to learn more.

 

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Form Over Function (Scratch That, Reverse It)

Do you like pretty pictures, or creative that gets your message across? Great advertising knows how to blend the two into one harmonious image. But at what point does one or the other become too much and no longer works?

Take a look at 5 tips to help ensure you blend form and function so that your message gets to the end user.

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1. Know Your End User’s Perspective – While most of us know what “we” each like, that is rarely the same for your potential clients. Make sure you and your agency know your first and secondary target audience so you can tailor your message properly.

2. Have a Lead for Your Marketing Projects – Someone needs to take charge and be willing to make final calls. Team feedback is good, but know when to listen to your team, and when to listen to your marketing professionals. When your team is reviewing artwork, gather all the changes at one time to send back to your agency. This will not only reduce possible overlap and errors, but can reduce your costs from the agency spending less time going back and forth on similar changes.

3. Determine Messaging Hierarchy – When preparing direct marketing objectives, give hierarchy to the messaging you want in your newspaper ads and eblasts. Give your headlines, subheads and messaging a pecking orde for the agency to follow so they can help tailor the message to the campaign. This can help ensure proper imaging and call-outs to offers that are important.

4. Know When to Cut Back – Trying to stuff the ad full with all your offers? You might just get your marketing overlooked. Stick to one main message and one supporting message. You’ll be surprised how often “less is more” will ring true for you. People are more likely to respond to a marketing piece that conveys one strong message versus multiple weak messages.

5. Be Careful of Friendly Input – Are you unsure of your message or could that headline be stronger? When you ask your friends for feedback, take into account how close they are to your target audience. Revert back to the first bullet, then just ask your agency. Your agency should have years of marketing experience, should know your target audience and will be more that willing to ensure that your marketing will hit the mark. Ask questions! it gets conversation going and helps fine tune your campaigns. We want to be your partners in your sales, not just the people who make your marketing”look” good.

So let’s make your artwork functional AND beautiful. You can do this by creating a strong message first, and then design the artwork to support that message. If you have additional offers you need to convey, just make sure they are on a lower priority level so your materials are still attractive enough to grab your audience’s attention.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level? Email eric@ceamarketing.com or give us a call at 727-523-8044 to get started today!

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Improving Your SEO

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Boooo! It’s Halloween week! You know something that has always scared me? SEO.  Seriously! That is until I went to an awesome SEO training and learned some tricks (and treats) of the trade.

SEO is so much more than just adding keywords into your website content. There are a lot of components that go into optimizing your website to help make your site more visible and improve sales.

Keep in mind, it’s important to never focus on one thing. As often as Google changes algorithms, they could turn off your main “faucet” at any point.

Don’t be scared. Follow these 3 steps to start improving your SEO right now!

  1. Research- This is the most important step in improving SEO.
    • Consider who you are competing against with certain words. It will be much more difficult to place for “new homes than “energy-efficient single-family homes in Charleston South Carolina.”
    • Ask yourself, “what would I search for?“
    • Utilize free and paid tools that can help you determine what people are searching for- not just what you think they are searching for.  Check out Google Trends, Google AdWords, Keyword Planner, WordTracker, SEMRush to name a few.
  1. Write content for visitors – (not search engines)- Great content is shared. Your content should be easy-to-read, organized, interesting and relevant. Avoid long paragraphs, keep it FRESH and updated constantly.
  1. Optimize your page- Once you’ve written your content to appeal to readers, go back and tweak for optimization. Keep keywords close to each other and keep them close to the beginning of HTML tags. How else can you optimize?
    • Title Tags
    • Meta descriptions
    • Meta keyword tags
    • H1 and H2 tags
    • Link text
    • Body text
    • Bulleted text
    • Bold and italics
    • Image ALT attribute
    • URL

(If you don’t know what these mean, contact CEA!)

In addition, tracking analytics can tell you important information like time spent on pages, bounce rates, etc. This may lead you to rethink content on a page or links.

Keep in mind, SEO is an ongoing process. It is not a one and done kind of project. Keep content updated weekly if not more. Constantly search for ways to improve based on analytics and search results. Consider other means of getting page one visibility through incorporating press releases, multiple social media platforms, videos etc.

I told you it wasn’t so scary. Let’s be honest, ranking on the first page of Google is a boo-tiful thing. Would you like to take your SEO from spooky to spectacular Contact CEA Marketing at 727.523.8044 or email kristy@ceamarketing.com

 

 

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Why You Need A Strong Online Presence…And How To Craft One.

blogimageWe’ve all heard the saying: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. In previous years it was easier to control your customers’ first impression of your brand; storefronts were the place were consumers got to know your company. Today however, the first impression for your customer might just happen in the digital space.

Today’s digital consumer operates on the web, often on more than one device. According to Nielsen’s 2014 Digital Consumer Report, 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use a mobile device for shopping activities. These users are searching for anything from the brand’s physical location, price of services, reviews and other research before making a commitment.

Users are choosing to learn about and become familiar with your brand online before ever setting foot in a physical location. This means that if you’re not creating a good online presence, then you could be missing out on some potential customers. Not only that, if you don’t have a strong online presence it could cost you. Consumers expect to see companies online, where they easily connect and find answers quickly.

So how do you improve your online presence? Here are 3 simple steps to get you started:

  1. Optimize your website
  • Make sure your website is up to date and user friendly. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most users leave sites within 59 seconds. That means you have to capture their attention immediately with high quality, relevant content.
  1. Get social
  • Are you on social media? Because your clients probably are. According to the Pew Internet Project’s research (http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/), 74% of online adults use social networking sites.
  1. Be consistent
  • Pick a voice for your brand’s online presence, and then stick with it. When choosing how you want to represent your company online, make sure it adheres to your brand standards and company image.

If this seems a little overwhelming, or if you’re just not sure where to start, contact us. We’ll be sure to create a strong online presence for your company that is sure to satisfy customers.

 

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You May Think You Know Facebook, But You Have No Idea.

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One of the many things we hear when training companies on social media strategy is “I know how to run Facebook, so I’m not sure how much more you can teach me.” We never doubt the person saying this doesn’t know Facebook. Everyone knows Facebook. The issue lies in the difference of running a personal Facebook page versus a business page.

 

Here are 5 things you may not know about Facebook business pages:

  1. Insights. A business page allows the admins to access all kinds of data. From geo-targeted results from LIKES to how many users not only engaged with your post, but also blindly engaged (a click through that can only be seen by someone managing the page). Without analytics, how do you know if your strategy is working?
  2. Promoted Posts. You may hate this part. No one wants to pay Facebook to get the word out. But there is no denying; this is how it has to be. When you log on to Facebook, you have the opportunity to see up to 1,500 posts per visit. How does Facebook choose which posts you see? Promotion.
  3. Limitless Followers. A personal page only allows up to 5,000 friends. A business page on the other hand allows you to continue your growth until you’ve added everyone and their mothers.
  4. Scheduling. Social media is a full time job. I know this because it is my full time job. One of the greatest things about a business page, is the ability to schedule. Maybe Monday’s are slow days for you. Get all your posts set up on Monday and just let them post themselves throughout the week! (You can even boost while scheduling!)
  5. Credibility. This last one has nothing to do with a rule that Facebook set up. Its just plain and simple knowledge. By setting up a business page for your business you are telling people you are legit. It shows consumers that you know what you are doing; therefore you must know what you are doing with the product you are selling.

 

If your fear is that you are losing followers by starting from scratch, it’s not true! Just because someone is a friend with you on Facebook does not make him or her a perfect brand ambassador for you. Let us show you how to gain new LIKES on your business page based on geographic and demographic targets. Make your followers count!

 

Would you like to know more about Facebook? Give us a call TODAY. 727.523.8044.

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Continuing Education: A Necessity NOT a luxury.

Does one’s formal education end when one walks out of the classroom? The correct answer is of course not!

No matter the profession, in today’s specialization driven world, keeping up with current trends, techniques and technologies is an absolute requirement to stay ahead of the curve, no exceptions.

 

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How does one go about improving themselves, their skills and their marketability once they’ve escaped the formal education system? Well, jump right back in! Pursue a higher degree or specialization by attending grad school or a technical school for an immediately marketable skill-set. Consider shooting for your Bachelors or Masters degree. If you happen to be a programmer like myself, keeping immersed and current within the ever-evolving software world is vital to my success.

 

1.) The lowdown on Formal Education

 

Strengths:

  • Structured and paced time blocks devoted to your field of study.
  • Supportive community consisting of mentors/professors and classmates.

 

Weaknesses:

  • Lags behind in certain fields
  • Can be costly

 

Personally, I’ve completed my walk through the halls and fires of my B.S. Computer Science degree. Who knows, perhaps a Master’s lies within my future.

 

2.) Community driven education

 

Strengths:

  • More time efficient
  • Learning through community resources can be less intimidating
  • Less Costly

 

Weaknesses:

  • Less structured
  • More dependent on self-motivation and commitment

 

Just this past weekend, my coworker & I attended a local community event, the Front End Design Conference & Workshop in Downtown St. Petersburg, FL. The wonderful speakers, organizers and attendees at #frontendconf were an invaluable resource for the latest and greatest trends and techniques in modern web design.

 

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In many classrooms, the curriculums are often pre-set in advance and most, if not all, of your fellow students are new to the subject material.

In this low cost informal workshop however, I found that both the speakers and attendees were capable of answering questions relating to the latest and greatest techniques of my field!

One speaker giving a presentation on SMACSS (Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS) had to update her slides the very morning of her presentation as a new update to SMACSS had just been released by its developer the evening prior!

Having the knowledge base of the community readily available to you and answers to questions on the brand new Ruby on Rails library update released just days prior is near indescribable.

Sharing is one of the greatest ways to learn! Learn from others and one day give back by sharing what you’ve learned.

 

3.) Commitment, Commitment, Commitment

 

Of course, regardless of the path you choose to improve your own skills and toolset, you must commit! Those who don’t keep up with latest trends are often the ones who struggle to stay employed.

 

Always set aside a block of time each month to maintaining and improving your toolbox.

Keeping technical & business skills current and relevant is a necessity for employers. It’s oftentimes easy for companies to give the go-ahead on training when business is booming and profits are high. It is often a much tougher call when trying to squeeze every dollar out of the bottom line. In today’s ever changing world however, ongoing training isn’t a luxury, but a necessity.

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The 40/40/20 Rule of Direct Mail

In today’s digital world, where so much marketing endeavor has migrated online, why does advertising via traditional direct marketing remain so ubiquitous? The answer: It’s still extremely effective when done properly.

Executing a successful direct mail campaign that generates impressive results is not rocket science, but it does require a good deal of thought, planning, and adherence to what is known as the 40/40/20 rule.

Below is a simple, time-tested recipe to get the most from your direct mail campaigns:

40% Devoted to a GREAT LIST

Identify

  • Determine the target audience that matches your product or service in terms of demographics and psychographics.
  • Obtain a list that fits the target.
  • Utilize your list provider to assist in order to target your ideal audience.

 

40% Devoted to a SUPER OFFER

Create Urgency

  • In order to optimize your direct mail, provide an offer and/or impart a high-degree of urgency your target audience simply cannot refuse to ignore.
  • Whether it’s a limited-time discount or incredible special-buy made available only to recipients, there must be a clear, incentive-driven call-to-action, carefully crafted to garner maximum response.

 

20% Devoted to ATTENTION-GETTING CREATIVE

Creative

  • The presentation of creative (including copywriting) that identifies with your audience completes the recipe.
  • Avoid the pitfall of choosing creative that you, think is “neat” or “cool.”
  • Creative should be dedicated to fulfilling what your target audience desires to see, read, and ultimately act upon.
  • Savvy marketers that wish to go a step further may provide several creative options to target identified focus groups.
  • For tips on picking the perfect creative, click HERE.

In order for your next direct mail campaign to be the very best it can be, all three parts of the above percentage-based formula must work in complete concert and in total harmony. When this tripartite is wholly realized, the reward you’ll achieve is nothing short of amazing!

Dave is an Account Executive with CEA Marketing Group.

For more information on CEA Marketing Group and what it can do for you, visit us!

 

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3 TECHINQUES TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MARKETING AGENCY

 

So you hire a marketing agency to help you rebrand your image and design a modern website. You’re not entirely sure which direction you’d like your project to go and find it easier to simply leave the decisions up to the marketing experts, giving only a vague description along with creative freedom.

Have you ever been in this scenario? Then you know how this is likely going to end up.

The project has started and you’re excited! You have the perfect idea and just gained a team of dedicated experts to bring it to fruition! What could possibly go wrong? In concept, this truly is as close to the perfect recipe as one could get, yet time and again we have seen this perfect synergy somehow fail.

Luckily, I have been in the position of a client, where I commissioned a fellow graphic designer to rebrand my own personal website, but also have my own experience as a Web Designer here at CEA. Thanks to this duality, I have some unique insight to offer to this conundrum. Here are 3 insights that may help to smoothen the process between conceptualizing an idea and bringing it to light.

 

1. Develop A Creative Brief: It’s necessary

  • Outline the scope of work and give as many details as you can to avoid multiple revisions and driving up cost. This will save you a great deal of development time and thusly a great deal of money.

 

  • Provide as much detail and direction as possible to avoid ambiguity. Left with little direction or given absolute creative freedom, you may end up disappointed with the end result. Why? One man’s vision is another mans nightmare.

 

  • Communicate your ideas to the artists and web developers behind the scenes to ensure everyone involved on the project is on the same page.

 

2. Keep Ongoing Communication: It’s Important

  • The responsibility of being a happy client does not rest solely on the shoulders of the marketing agency. In fact, a great deal of responsibility lies with the client themselves.

 

  • It is vitally important to designate a key decision maker within your organization to manage conflicting opinions and keep in constant contact with the marketing firm.

 

  • This individual manages change in the account including charges. It is best to address changes early on, and keep all parties “in the know” as to the current status of the project, and whether or not these issues have caused the scope to change.

 

  • Ongoing communication helps to meet target dates and to keep the project going with a clear goal in mind. I cannot tell you how often I’ve had to wait and wait for hours, sometimes days, even weeks for a client to get back to me. As you can imagine, this lack of steady communication greatly impacts the project.

 

3. Determine Your Resources: Who & What Is Needed?

  • As a web developer, I cannot stress this enough. Client, it is your responsibility to provide a means to access the required resources necessary for the project. Take for example, if you were commissioning an agency to create for you an e-commerce website.

 

  • Web developers will require content to fully put this website together. Do you have a means to provide product images and organized product details for the item you are marketing? How about informational content for pages, or rather, SEO optimized copy for your new website?

 

  • Details such as these are vital to the well being of the project and you will need to designate people responsible for the individual pieces of the project.

 

I understand this may seem like a lot to ask of a client. Your time is valuable, and that’s why I believe the above tips will help you to better interact with an agency, and create higher quality creative. Take my word for it; you will save time, money, and effort in the long run!

 

Challenge yourself! Put these 3 techniques into practice with your next project and reap the rewards!

 

Want some more advice?

Visit www.ceamarketing.com or follow us on Twitter @kbosetti for Social Media & Marketing tips & tricks!

 

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