How AI is impacting Search Engine Marketing For Small Businesses and Legal Practices

Google ranking for lawyer websites, dentist web sites, and small business sites.

As an online marketing and search optimization agency we are constantly working to keep ahead of the curve as to what Google is up to and how it will impact search engine marketing for our small business clients, law firms, dental offices, and other websites that we manage.. Several algorithm changes by Google over the past several years have dramatically impacted the methods of Search Engine Optimization used in order to gain the coveted first page ranking in Google Search. If fact, a business website can run the risk of falling from the top of the first page to a later page or even becoming blacklisted.  This is why it is very important to understand that while some “SEO specialists” will claim and may even succeed at rapidly getting your law firm, dental practice, or other small business to the top of Google, that ranking can go away even faster than it arrived. This leads to the significance of white-hat SEO practices along with building a solid base of good content for your local SEO as well as larger scale SEO efforts.

While the Google algorithm is still kept as a highly guarded secret, Google has begun to share some of its ranking factors. These are typically the factors that make the internet better, rather than giving black-hat SEO companies a roadmap to tricking their way to the top. Google is sharing important factors that make the internet better for its human users, like mobile friendly implementation and improving page loading speed.

As an online marketer, website designer, content writer, and search engine optimization expert, there is one factor that has not changed in getting to the first page in Google for numerous key phrases related to your business, and that is “Content is King”. Of course link building is also still a highly important factor, with the caveat that google will look at links in one of three ways, a link can increase your site ranking, the link can be ignored, or spammy links can even cause your site to incur a penalty (this is intended to discourage the use of black-hat link building practices). Google has stated that RankBrain is now the third most important signal in determining the ranking of your website in Google.

What is RankBrain?

Rather than using Google’s own internal code added to the algorithm, RankBrain is a machine that utilizes artificial intelligence in order to determine what you may be searching for, even if the key phrase you have typed is not the focus key phrase of your website. What this means is simply that it can provide an educated guess as to what you are searching for based on past Google searches the machine has processed and results that it has data from. Of course this is the short version, but what it ultimately means is that it should humanize the Google experience by making it more intuitive.

How Do I Search Engine Optimize For RankBrain?

There are several answers to this, generally the answer is that you can’t optimize for RankBrain. However, while this may be the initial understanding, it may be possible to do things that to help get your site better viewed RankBrain. First and foremost, develop good content that reads well to the human eye. RankBrain is supposed to humanize the Google Search Experience, therefore a site that reads well to the human eye will probabally be better liked by the AI. Now you may wish to consider not just focusing on one key phrase, but to word things in multiple ways within the site to target key phrases that are different, yet have the same meaning as your primary key phrase(s). You may also seek help from Google, by looking at the Related Terms that appear at the bottom of the search page and considering adding the terms listed there into the mix, if they apply to your business. Whether this specifically will help with RankBrain ranking or not is not know, however doing so will help with content based ranking, and thus may ultimately impact how RankBrain views your business website. Additionally, when link building (internal as well as external) you may want to consider adding these ‘different but same meaning’ key  phrases into the text. After all, while RankBrain is the third most important signal, Content and Links are still the most important two among the hundreds of ranking factors.

Ultimately, Google is trying to create a better UX (user experience) for its users. By using artificial intelligence to learn how to better and more appropriately rank websites based on past searches and results, Google can help searchers to find what they are looking for, even if they didn’t type the exact specific correct term. As for website designers, content writers, and search engine optimizer’s, building a website that is better liked by humans may just be the answer to how to make the website better liked by the machine.

 

Sources:

Search Engine Journal – https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-rankbrain-affect-seo-2016/162153/ https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-rankbrain-affect-seo-2016/162153/

Search Engine Roundtable – Google: There Is No RankBrain Score & You Don’t Optimize For It  https://www.seroundtable.com/google-no-rankbrain-score-no-seo-22282.html

Search Engine Roundtable –  Google: The Top Three Ranking Factors Are Content, Links & RankBrain  https://www.seroundtable.com/google-top-three-ranking-factors-21827.html

Forbes – What Is Google RankBrain And Why Does It Matter? http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/11/12/what-is-google-rankbrain-and-why-does-it-matter/#b115a4e301ae

 

 

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DIY Websites

Recently I was contacted by a small business owner who is just beginning to get his business started in Columbus, Ohio. He already had a website in place, but said that he is not getting any traffic. He contacted me about search engine optimization services for his website so that he can be found in Google and the other search engines when someone is searching for the type of work he does.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of existing websites is one of the things that RBiZ Marketing does for its clients, so I evaluated his website. It was basic and didn’t have a highly professional look and feel to it, but that is expected whenever you are using a templated website-builder due to the generic nature of the layout and designs. More significantly it was not appearing in the first pages of the search engines when entering keyword phrases related to his business, in fact it was not appearing on the first twenty pages for most key phrases.

Upon evaluation of his site, and calling the company that provided the website builder (content management system), there was no allowance to access the actual html code of the site. This means that we could not access the code in Dreamweaver and would not be able to complete the majority of the SEO services that are necessary to be completed within the code. Unfortunately we were not able to optimize the website for this small business owner. While we could have optimized the site content and completed a minimal level of optimization through the website builder, we recommended to the business owner that the benefits of paying us to do this would not have been significant. While code restrictions are common among proprietary content management systems, many others do allow for access to the code, thus providing the ability to optimize an existing site to be found in the search engines. In these cases, we are happy to take the project when we are confident that you will get a return on your investment for hiring us.

The point is, when investing your time (Believe me, even templated DIY sites can take a lot of your time) and money in building a website you should take into account the value of your time as well as return on investment.

  1. It needs to be found in Google and the other search engines in order to attract new customers/clients.
  2. Be sure that the code can be modified in web editors such as Dreamweaver or Expressions.
  3. The design of your site is a representation of your business, and usually the first thing that your customer/client will see, make sure that it represents you well.
  4. Once you attract the visitor to your website, they will usually decide whether or not to stay within the first couple of seconds, be sure they like what they see.
  5. The marketing message of your site is important, be sure that the appropriate message is getting to your clients. You may get it, but do they?

Whether you are building a new site yourself or having a professional web designer build it for you, be sure that these aspects are taken into account. Feel free to contact RBiZ Marketing for your Website Design, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, and all Online Marketing needs.

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Android Phones, Android Devices, iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices are impacting the way we need to market!

With the continued growth in device usage, the significance of online presence to even the smallest business is exponentially increasing. Now consumers who search online are not only finding the products and services they want or need while sitting at their desktop or a laptop computer, they are shopping online everywhere they go. This is happening whether they are looking for an online product or a local shop that carries what they are searching for. Whether searching for a local dentist, lawyer, window cleaning company, bed bug inspector, website designer, or any other type of a service, if you are not appearing on their mobile devices, your business is missing out.

Search engines such as Google, social networking sites such as Facebook & Google+ now have algorithms to feed your search data based on your actual location. This occurs whether your location based GPS is turned on or not since your location is approximated based on the cell tower your data is processed through. While this may raise some concerns about privacy to consumers, it definitely should be of concern to business owners for a different reason. Location based advertising and search are here to stay, therefore if your business is not found by these consumers, you are missing out! They will pass right by your store or office if they are not finding you when searching for your product or service.

At Columbus, Ohio based RBiZ Marketing we specialize in helping your business to be found online, whether it is a computer, phone, or device. This ranges from Search Engine Optimized Website Design for new sites, and Optimization of existing sites, to setting up and even managing complete Social Media Marketing programs for your business. Contact us today to schedule an Online Marketing Consultation for your business.

 

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The New Status Quo

For years the status quo has been to place an advertisement in the “phone book” or Yellow Pages. With the onset of the internet and the tremendous growth of Google as well as Yahoo, and Bing, things have changed. In a digital world with smartphones, ipad’s, and androids, not to mention laptops, internet cafe’s, and so many other places to connect, to be in business your business needs to be online.

Did you know that over 85% of your potential customers, clients, or patients will look at your businesses website before making that first contact?

Since your website will likely be the first view of your business and will influence the decision to do business, it is becoming more and more important that the design of your site offer a good first impression. However, it is also extremely important to provide the opportunity to get that first impression.

Is Google the new status quo? You decide.

  • Have you ever used or heard the term “Google it”?
  • When was the last time you heard “look it up in the Yellow Pages”?
  • When was the last time you picked up a phone book? Did you open it?
  • Have you looked up a business on Google Places or Maps?
  • Has an online review about a business or product influenced your buying decision?
  • Have you found a business or product using a search engine?
  • Do you have internet on your phone?

The fact is that the internet has quickly become the most important medium for marketing any business, agency or practice. If you are not being found, and found quickly (most people will only search one to two pages before entering a different keyword phrase) then your business is or will be falling behind. When you are found in the search engines it is important that you are found not only by your business name, but also by the key phrases that people search when looking for your type of business.

For example:
Searching for a  dentist I may type:

  1. dentist in clintonville oh
  2. dentist in delaware ohio
  3. cosmetic dentist in delaware oh
  4. columbus ohio dental office

Searching for an attorney:

  1. workers compensation attorney columbus ohio
  2. Columbus Ohio personal injury lawyer
  3. estate attorney in Ohio
  4. Sandusky lawyer

Searching for a Chiropractor:

  1. Chiropractor in Newark, Ohio
  2. back pain in Columbus
  3. natural health clinic in Marion Oh
  4. Lancaster herniated disc treatment

Similar to finding a business by a category, the way the phone book works, most people will enter greater than 3 keywords to describe what they are looking for when searching online. Try this: search for your business as if you were a potential customer who knows what they want, but are not familiar with your business. If you are not coming up on the first page, then you need to consider updating your online marketing strategy.

When we optimize an online marketing strategy, we take what we think will work then research to see what people are actually typing into the search engines when looking for what it is that you do. In this way we are able to determine and target the keyword phrases that are being searched the most by your potential customers, thus providing your business with the most effective search engine marketing results.

As a Columbus Ohio based website designer, search engine optimization, and social media marketing firm, we service local Ohio clients as well as businesses throughout North America. RBiZ Marketing markets doctors, dentists, lawyers and law firms, manufacturing, trucking, residential services, business services, restaurants, daily deal websites, and more. Contact us at (614) 285-7249 to schedule a consultation.  Let us help your business to be found online and achieve the new status quo.

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DOES YOUR BUSINESS HAVE AN INTERACTIVE MARKETING STRATEGY?

Not long ago those large yellow books that appear on our front door were considered the status quo in advertising. The marketing arena has changed dramatically with the onset of the personal computer, laptops, ipads, tablet pc’s, and smart phones which attach us to the internet nearly everywhere we go. Now when the consumer is looking for a medical office, dentist, chiropractor, lawyer, toothbrush, bicycle, restaurant, or auto part it is as simple as “googling it” to find where to go or who to call. The b2b world has also experienced this change as corporate buyers and business owners now have instant access to a multitude of suppliers’ as well as substantial amounts of additional information to influence the decision of where to do business right at their fingertips.

While every business model has different marketing needs in order to succeed, there is a growing trend toward the utilization of the internet to promote successful businesses. With such easy and instant access to information, the status quo has changed. Even businesses that have traditionally operated by gaining referrals are finding that they are losing business as potential customers/clients/patients are going to the business with a website design that they like better, or because they found the businesses website on the first page of google, or choosing based on favorable online reviews.

Who is winning? With the fast growth of interactive and social media influenced purchasing, the firms with a successful online marketing strategy are not just making waves; they are rapidly replacing firms still stuck following the old “tried and true” marketing methods. Whether you think you are ahead of the pack or working to catch up, if your business does not have an interactive marketing strategy in place, now is the time!

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A FEW TIPS ON HOW TO GET RANKED ON THE FIRST PAGE OF GOOGLE

Search Engine Optimization is not as straight forward as it used to be. It’s not just a matter of putting in keywords and directing people to your website. Due to the effectiveness of top search engine results, there is a massive amount of competition to rank on the first page of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Because of this competition and the competition between the search engines to be the engine of choice, they are continuously updating the algorithms to produce more relevant search results.

While the algorithms used to produce organic search engine results are kept TOP SECRET by Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines, through much research, client results, and in-house testing we work our way through the ever changing maze of achieving top results and getting your business to rank on the first page of google.

Here are a few basic tips to get you started:
1) Target long tailed keywords – The average number of words per search has increased to nearly 3.2 (as reported by comscore in 2010), additionally due to competition it is much more difficult, thus more expensive to target single keywords

2) Match targeted keyword phrases in the meta data and your text in your content.

3) Gain backlinks to your website from numerous sources (note: many blogs, discussion boards, directories, and other resources that allow you to post backlinks use a no-follow tag, which tells the search engines not to follow your link, thereby not creating any link value for your site); the more relevant the source, the more benefit the backlink will be to you. (See my article on link building to improve rank in search engines) Internal linking within your site following the same guidelines also adds benefit.

4) Use descriptive relevant text and title tags in the backlinks as well as internal linking where possible (see the link above for an example) the code for this link is <a href = “http://rbizmarketing.com/online_marketing_blogspot/?p=3”  title=” Based in Columbus Ohio, RBiZ Marketing specializes in Search Engine Optimized custom website design”>(See my article on link building to improve rank in search engines)</a>

5) Geo target – Target keyword phrases that include your service area – While the search engines are becoming more sensitive to location with features like google places, many people will enter a city, state, or area name in their search in order to gain more relevant results.

6) Utilize a blog – Blogging gives you the opportunity to continuously add new relevant content without requiring you to completely redesign or rewrite your website. Be sure to add tags for relevant keywords and phrases. It also provides a step into social media marketing which is the fastest growing area of marketing.

These are a few basic website search engine optimization tips to get you started toward a website which will help to drive more customers, clients, or patients to your business.

Visit my online marketing, website design, search engine optimization, and social media marketing website at rbizmarketing.com to learn how we can help your business get ranked on the first page of Google.

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IS YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN COSTING YOU REFERRALS?

Did you know that over 80% of your potential customers/clients/patients will visit your website before they make the decision to contact your business? If your website does not appeal to them, they may choose not to do business with you before even making that first contact. With all of the effort to increase referrals or the marketing expense to get that visitor to your website, losing them prior to initial contact creates a significantly higher cost per lead increasing overall marketing expense and negatively impacting the bottom line.

Your business may be exactly what the visitor is looking for, so be sure your website provides a first impression that says so!

Best regards,

Travis Merideth
RBiZ Marketing
Based in Columbus Ohio, marketing businesses online through custom website design, search engine optimization (SEO), and Social Media Marketing.
Designing professional search engine optimized websites to represent your business, attracting and converting leads to customers.

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IS YOUR BUSINESS WEBSITE AN EXPENSE? OR INVESTMENT?

By today’s standards nearly all businesses absolutely need to have a website, and it seems that most do. In fact many businesses thrive as a direct effect of the website and online marketing, however even a larger of business owners don’t experience much benefit from their website. If it is not working as an effective advertisement to drive revenue for the business, it is an expense rather than an investment.

Some reasons a website may not be working as an effective marketing tool:

  • The website is not getting the message out to the audiences who want and need your service or product.
  • The appearance of the website causes visitors to quickly leave, or even worse to view your business as unprofessional or unappealing.
  • The website is not getting across a message that will attract and inspire customers to do business.

There are three key areas must be considered when creating an effective website.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Marketing through web site optimization is one of the most frequently overlooked areas of web design. A web designer can build an incredibly attractive and well designed web site, but most are not Search Engine Optimization professionals. If your website is not properly optimized in order to achieve first page search engine rankings for the key phrases that your potential customers are searching in the search engines it’s like “putting up a billboard in the desert!” The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to drive relevant traffic to your site from search engines. That means the customers who are “googling” for your services online will find your business.

Note: In addition to the internal optimization of the website, another consideration which is necessary to earn high search engine rankings is external search optimization including creation of relevant inbound links.

Website Design

In many cases the first contact your potential customers will have with your business is through viewing its website. With this in mind, it is important to be sure that the website design is appealing, professional, and gets the right message across. A first impression is a lasting impression; in fact most potential customers make the decision to keep searching within a few seconds of entering your website. The decision to make contact usually takes a little bit longer and typically involves additional viewing of your website.

Marketing

The fact is that most website designers are not marketing professionals. They can build the site, but what does it say about your business? Through a combination of design, professionalism, usefulness, and content, the website should attract the potential customer to continue to view your site and portray a positive image of the business. In addition it should provide positive information about your business to your target audience, while offering the customer reasons to choose to do business with you as well as making it easy to do business.

Websites are a key factor in the marketing mix of many businesses and when developed properly will provide significant return on investment. When deciding to build your own site, use a cookie cutter template design service, or choosing a professional website designer, it is important to understand what you want the site to accomplish. Is the desired effect of the website is to act as an online business card, only being viewed by those searching for you business by name, or do you want the website to attract business from clients, customers, or patients who are searching for your product or service?

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Social Media Marketing – Fast Growth Marketing Segment

Social media marketing budgets predicted to increase by 34% annually from 716 million in 2009 to over 3.1 Billion in 2014
Search Marketing budgets predicted to increase by 15% annually from nearly 15.4 Billion in 2009 to nearly 55 Billion in 2014

mashable.com
We already knew that social media marketing budgets were on the rise, but now we know by how much. Forrester Research is out with their Interactive Marketing
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Link building to improve rank in search engines

Search engines place a high level of relevance on inbound links to a website when determining where it will be ranked in a search. A couple of the helpful tools in website search engine optimization that I have come across are mozRank (mR) and PageRank (PR). These tools are very useful in providing metrics to base SEO link building efforts on. Knowing the PR and mR are helpful in determining the value a link from a particular site. They are set on a scale from 1 – 10 with higher numbers indicating greater “link juice” (value a link from that site provides to your search engine optimization efforts).

For example: if a website with a PR or mR of 3 and a website with a PageRank or mozRank of 4 both link to identical wesites (Site A and Site B), Site A which received the link from the site ranking 4 would likely appear higher in the search engines than Site B which was linked to from the website with a rank of 3. This is true in theory, however due to the complexity of the algorithms used by the search engines these scores should not be used as the sole judge in determining the ideal websites to attempt to gain links from.

Relevance of the site being linked from is another determinant in search engine ranking. Take the same two sites in the earlier example and say that they are both dental websites in Columbus Ohio. Now say that the higher ranked website that the two are linking from is a personal injury law firm website in Cleveland Ohio and the lower ranked website is a dental association in Columbus Ohio. In this case, even though Dental website B linked to the lower mR and PR websites, Site B will gain more benefit from the local aspect (if potential patients are searching for a local “dentist in Columbus Ohio”). Dental website B will also gain benefit in the search engines from the fact that the dental association website is highly relevant to dentistry. Thus, even though dental website A has an inbound link from a website which has a slightly higher PageRank and mozRank, dental website B is likely to earn a better ranking in the search engines.

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