Monday, April 30, 2012

Exact Match Domain is King?

So any SEO worth their paycheck knows that exact match domains are a big part of the SEO game and the top search results, but what exactly is the science behind that?

If Google has the advertised 200 factors being considered when coming up with 100% of the final figure that determines the order in the SERPS, how much of that is exact matching a domain?
An exact match domain is basically the domain name for your exact search.

If you are a customer searching for the finest Charlotte web design company, you may type in Charlotte web design. This is a high volume, high competition and high skill level search result. You will find here companies making a living putting good, usable content. But, as in most searches, you will also find the guy who used the incredible skill of “buying the name first”.

Why would this be such a heavily weighted factor in Google’s quest for the most relevant and fresh quality content?

Google beats us over the head with their message of “content is king” and telling us to “write good usable content for you customers not for search engines". Google then goes out spidering sites and gives perhaps 10%? 20% consideration to the guy with the domain name purchased fastest?

Remember 20 years ago when anyone that was selling car insurance could easily be found by customers under their OTHER name “AAAAAInsurance”?

SEO of 20 years ago consisted of putting a lot of AAAA’s before you company name to appear first in the phone book. The phone book had an algorithm of exactly one factor, Alphabetical.

Now 2 decades later we have the world’s most advanced search technology yet it still seems to decide contextual relevance by the name you put on it. If I write “War and Peace” on the front of a phone book does that make it an award winning novel?
Todd Kron

Friday, April 20, 2012

Online PR Company Approach

So what do you mean when you say online PR?
Had the pleasure of meeting one of new clients last night at the 2012 Vision Award in Charlotte put on by the Center City Partners, and the title above is a question I got.

What exactly is online public relations and what do you do for me?

If you know me you know I absolutely love SEO, Marketing, selling online and watching SERPS and the trends online. I am very analytical and would really do this for free or on my day off.

I answered this with a lot of overlap from Defensive SEO and strong dash of social media.
“Public relations” is defined as the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by an organization or a famous person. PR is the state of the relationship between the public and a company or other organization or a famous person.

Online we must often be reactive in a practice sort of way. We do not always get to “wag the dog” when dealing with the world of searchable content. Very often a customer will search for what they want when they want to. In other forms of PR and marketing people like me take pride in telling people what they want and doing it in a way where they don’t know why they wanted it.

Does anyone really remember what was so great about Cabbage Patch kids or Teddy Ruxpin?
Now we can track customers and searchers to within a micrometer of what they are thinking and this is almost as good as telling them what they want. With Google analytics and other social media tracking tools like Pagelever allow us to know what works and doesn’t work in real time.

Still in this situation we don’t know when the trend will change until it does. The solution to this is often preparing ahead of time with defensive SEO, a tsunami of online press and covering every page a person may find in conjunction with a clients name.
We want to do all of the basic things like create a great Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Linkedin presence of course. We want to make all of those pages tempting to join with motivational calls to action for any visitor. Our thinking here is that when we do all this work to get a searcher to your page we don’t want them leaving empty handed.

I want your social media presence to be like the candy in the checkout aisle. Who can say no to “free newsletter, EBooks and updates only takes one click on my LIKE BUTTON?”
Not really PR, but the residual PR you get from having an active relationship with thousands of fans and followers is he most effective part. When someone sees you r message on your wall it means only so much, but when they se your message on their best friends wall who is your follower….means much more.
Searchers are not on Facebook searching though; they are on Google, Bing or Yahoo. And when they enter you name what do they see? The searchers can often end a search for your service on just the snippets Google provides. If I search for CGR Creative where I work as Online Marketing Director I see nothing but the great things we do for our community. I see Press releases covering our activity in the community and I see rave reviews from valued clients past.

In a past article I point out how over 80% of searchers do not go past page one in their searches, but that doesn’t apply to reputation defense when I do it.
If I am searching for a web design firm in Charlotte I likely won’t go past page one if I am a casual searcher. But now I have picked CGR for example and am considering the phone call tomorrow to them. My next step is to search them specifically and in this scenario most searchers will go 2,3 or 4 pages deep. Searchers curious about your business reputation are not looking for top 10 or the Google chosen “best”, they are looking for the bad news. Searchers looking for bad news tend to go much deeper into the results.
When’s the last time you search some old friend or enemy just for fun? How many pages deep did you go? Enough said.

Now go search CGR Creative Charlotte and go back to page 4, this is what I can do for clients.
We make sure you have a good reputation online which gets you a much higher conversion rate on raw leads who are kicking tires online. You have spent so much time building your name up with positive public relations; one single bad piece of news that is accessible to the world on Google 24/7 will lose all that faith in your next perspective client.
We build content and press for you through 40+ Press websites, cover all review websites including industry specific ones and local search results, respond to anything negative and work to minimize or remove it. We will make sure you perspective clients hear nothing but positive things and build faith in your business that they will turn around and pass on to their friend with confidence. Word of mouth and what people see what their own eyes is very effective in selling your brand long term.

Todd Kron
Online Marketing Director
CGR Creative Design - Charlotte, NC

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Types of SEO Agencies and Approaches

Had an interesting discussion today with Jason Ramsey of CGR over lunch. We were discussing a long list of experienced Charlotte SEO ’s we have come into contact, with a few varying philosophies of how SEO for your website gets done. I am the Online Marketing Director for CGR Creative in Charlotte with a decade of experience in SEO, affiliate marketing, and Adwords PPC management and have met many SEO's and their company's models as well.

We were not coming to any conclusion about what is right or wrong for everyone. Clearly every project has different demands and ratios of on-page and off-page needs, depending on where it is in the SEO life-cycle, so no right or wrong fits all. We did agree the situation of being a complete marketing firm and design agency with it's own SEO and PR team provides unmatched flexibility to the clients of CGR.

For those starting at square one on this article, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the art or skill of designing, structuring, and interlinking a website on the web so that it best represents the keywords you covet in the eyes of search engines. An easier way to say this same thing is that SEO is everything that goes behind making your company show up first in Google searches (no offense Y and B).
Basically, Google has about 200 factors they observe when judging which sites to rank first and establishing the order of results. This is beyond important to businesses that exist from web traffic because it decides who grows and excels and who goes out of business.
So, with the 101 stuff out of the way, the discussion was about the best way for a company to approach this need in business. If you are at the point of knowing what it is, why it is important, and choosing how to go forward, here are a few observations from two experienced experts in Search Marketing and Web design respectively.

An In-House SEO Position refers to a company hiring a skilled internet marketer to work from their office with the single goal of working on their behalf. This type of SEO position is considered by many to be the “holy grail” of SEO jobs from the search marketer’s position. This type is very appealing to experienced, independent SEOs like me. My experience being from many affiliate programs and generating traffic for income or referral income means a lot of changing markets. This is a great way to learn every niche and all things that work but the comfort of a single focus and single project is appealing to many SEO’s. The in-house jobs are often the best pay and benefits as well since the company covets your skills as the only person tasked with a lot of jobs related to the website.

When I say Agency SEO, I mean an SEO who is also you web designer. This sounds like a bad idea to those who know SEO, but there are more coming. 

Any SEO’s worth their weight know that a person who does web design then sells you SEO as a way to get residual income and an afterthought may not be the best choice, but that’s not the person I refer to here. In agency, I mean the design agency that has an in-house SEO staff. This is what I would see as an ideal situation for both the SEO who is job-seeking and ideal for the clients and web designers as well. Here you get the smaller number of clients, which the SEO likes; you also get the chance for more complete SEO.
An in-house SEO has the advantage of working directly with designers which makes it possible to be part of the site, structure, and construction process. A large part of the battle later on will be the way you decide to map out a site, the folder structure, and the URL structure. An in-house with the agency SEO works alongside the designers. This situation makes on-site changes, pre-design brainstorming, and creative updates or changes much easier to implement.
The last type of SEO is what I have heard referred to as “the grinder”. The pure SEO agency is often the lowest paying and highest volume workplace for the SEO looking for work. This situation generally has about 6-8 project managers perhaps, based off the Charlotte SEO grinder agency I am thinking of. Each of these account managers may have 8-10 accounts they are responsible for and doing SEO is all they do. This will encompass PPC, social, and both on and off page work. Now, let’s look at the problems with working with a pure SEO agency as opposed to a design firm that has its own SEO department, like CGR Creative. 

#1 problem with SEO only companies : Competing clients
Bet you didn’t know there are SEO agencies that only do a single field of SEO? Check out Surgeons Adviser. This is a Miami area SEO firm that does SEO only for surgeons and plastic surgeons. Now if you read through their client list, you will see overlapping areas of coverage. Also, a Charlotte Plastic surgeon of worth, like Dr. Hunsted, draws in clients from 2000 miles around. If your SEO agency has clients in the same field as you (which they do), then how can they be doing the absolute best on both of your behalf? This also happens a lot with Real Estate specialists in SEO. Real estate does require a skilled SEO with real estate experience, as it means a lot of smart IDX Integration. Perhaps David Kyle in Charlotte for that kind of specific background. But if you choose an industry specific SEO agency, ask to see their client list and decide for yourself if you are comfortable with the amount or lack of overlapping markets.

#2 problem with SEO only companies : No access to the original design of the site
I covered this above when pointing out the strengths of choosing a firm like CGR Creative that has a department for SEO and is a web design agency first. If you bring a site that is complete to a SEO only agency there will be limitations to what on page SEO they can perform.
Now there are people who will deny this and say they have plenty of design experience to implement any changes they may need. This assertion is generally true, but they also work on hours per month schedules and the changes they make will come out of your time. Also, no matter what kind of remodeling you do there are always limitations to what can be change after the fact.

#3 problem with SEO only companies: Lack of desire to build more
Now here is another up for opinion. An SEO only may also be thinking SEO only. Part of SEO is growing the presence and not just streamlining the presence you already have. A firm that has a design relationship with you has the ability to pitch new site ideas and new websites you may want to build to compliment what you have.
If you have an informative website that isn’t designed with clear call to actions or to convert leads well, you may need a separate one with that separate goal in mind.
A design agency that has daily conferences with the SEO department like we do at CGR has a place where one person can dream up what is best in theory and one department that can put that plan in action from scratch.
All your eggs in one basket is finally good advice when you need to make sure the eggs are done correctly from start to finish. Changing who is handling the development of your online strategy midstream is not worth the risk. CGR has attacked this problem by offering a full service web design and marketing agency with it’s own in house department dedicated solely to SEO and internet marketing like social media management and PPC.

Todd Kron
Online Marketing Director
CGR Creative, LLC

Shaping the Urban Century

April 19, 2012 - Tonight the Center City Partners will be hosting The Vision Awards Sponsored by Presbyterian Healthcare and Wells Fargo. The event is put together to honor, recognize, and celebrate the contributions of individuals, businesses, and organization that have made the Center City a more vibrant urban core.  Jim Rodgers, Chairman & President of Duke Energy is among those who will be receiving honors tonight. Owner & CCO, Jason Ramsey will be attending the event tonight, as well as Annetta Foard of the Community Building Initiative.

The Vision Awards will be held in the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center, 501 South College Street. The event will be filled with many surprises and unusual twists, as can be expected from a CCCP event. CGR Creative is honored to be a aligned with such a great group of organizations. The building, strengthening, and progression of our Charlotte is something that we hold very dear to our heart.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Site Structure Must Be Step One

I have seen many sites lately that lack direction. Websites that are not built with proper on-page SEO generally are the king of mediocre. In this I mean the sites have a lot of information and content but lack a format that breaks it into topical pages and sections.

These sites generally are established businesses with sites that possess a good amount of link juice and natural reputation in Google’s eyes, but at the same time haven’t given Google what it needs on each page to rank top 10. You can count on good content and good links to your site to get you to the top, or you can make the changes to maximize that chance. It’s just common sense that if you have a person search “What’s new in blue widgets?”, even the #1 blue widget site online may be at page 3 if 20 other sites have addressed this topic specifically.

So you are selling Blue Widgets in Atlanta.

·Are you writing about them on every page? (Too many?)

·Did you take your top 10 keyword list and make sure each one has a page specifically addressing it?

·Did you do the obvious, like make sure your heading and title tags line up with each page’s intended keyword?

·Did you pick a target page to represent each variation of  keyword specifically?

·Does your homepage identify your target regions?

·Did you include other commonly searched usages, like “How much are blue widgets"?

·Did you include comparison phrasings, like “Why Blue Widgets are better than Red Widgets”?

·Did you include pages to target your competitions customer base, (Blue Widgets Jacksonville?) without diluting your own website’s region?

·Did you build a social following and social footprint for your website with RSS feeds and account?

·Did you make sure to section your site off by region you serve so you can build links to each section with the proper city name keywords?

·Did you make sure to move your best converting keywords to the homepage where they have the most juice?

·Did you eliminate links that have useless terms in the ALT tags or anchor text, like “click here” and “learn more”?

·Did you eliminate repetitive sidebar content, like feeds and welcome messages that appear on every page and reduce the originality of every page?

·Did you utilize a Q/A section so you can rank on page one for people typing product questions?

If you don’t have all of these thoughts in mind when you first lay your site out, you may be playing from behind for the next 10 years to the guys who did.

This list is about half complete of the checklist a site designed by CGR Creative will keep in mind for your project. If a single sale pays our cost as Charlotte SEO’s for your business, and you are confident you can convert the leads you receive from being on page one. This is a no-brainer to pursue for your business.

Todd Kron
Online Marketing Director
CGR Creative

Monday, April 9, 2012

Charlotte Defensive Search Marketing

What is Defensive Search marketing?
Defensive SEO is the process of filling the top 20 spots for your name with positive items about your business and you mission towards your clients. This process includes:
·       Producing public pages highlighting a professionals skill set, contributions, what their philosophy is and anything else we can create that presents and highlights positive things.
·       We continue to flood their name with these items to occupy as many top 10-20 spots as possible.
·       We create pages, blogs, Blogspot, Wordpress Free blogs, Tumblr accounts, guest books and anything online to create as many results with positive references as possible. This keeps anything negative from getting an easy ride to page 1 and becoming damaging.
·       We also monitor and add review sites and local search reviews if there is any reason to. By maintaining high reviews on all review sites we protect the star rating of your business as it shows in the form of bright yellow stars next to your name in searches every day.

What happens when someone gets bad press to land on page 1 of google?
·       We would provide or repost the good reviews to drive it down the page and always keep ALL you review sites at 4+ stars.
·       We would seek out other review sites, large Q/A sites like Yahoo Answers or use public forums like craigslist or city-data to write about your company and get your name above them to drive them off page #1. With about 86% of users choosing to click on page one of Google and this negative publicity will not damage you livelihood.
·       Contact the website to get it removed.
·       Comment beneath it in response to show good customer service and explain the view of the company.

What makes this so valuable to a local business?
You are currently working hard to build your rank. Search positioning gets all of the publicity and is the goal of any business that is online. You need to also pay attention to what to do when they do find you. Any established business or business that has long-term plans and goals needs to understand that a lot of their business will not see their website first.
With the growing numbers of review sites, public forums, and rising blog ownership the chances that you won’t get to state your case to clients is going up as well. We all know the sayings about first impressions, and this is how you control all sources of those first impressions. A good plan means accounting for all sources of clientele to your business. You need to control the top 10 spots for your name and your business reputation at all times. **86% of all searches end on page one of Google, so to control those spots for your name and livelihood is imperative. 
Being proactive is the only way to be sure that you get to decide how you are seen by online searchers and shoppers; it is as important where you are located in searches to decide what they read when they do find you.

And what they don’t read when you are busy doing your job.

by: Todd Kron

Charlotte Reputation Defense

What is reputation defense?
Reputation defense is the monitoring, control, and improvement of a person, professional, brand, or company’s name on the internet through the eyes of their prospective customers.
Reputation defense involves monitoring social media accounts for the company. It also means monitoring the search terms that are often referring customers to the company on social media and search engines.
A large part of the modern local search involves monitoring review sites on your behalf. Sites like Yelp, Google,, YP,, and Yahoo all provide reviews with very little protection for the business owner.
A bad review on here will be highly visible and can damage your business without you knowing it exists. Business owners are at risk of bad press without a chance to respond in many cases. This is why we watch all avenues and make sure a response and a resolution or removal happens fast every time.
Examples of Reputation Defense:
For a local restaurant we would monitor the review sites, monitor sites like city-data, city based search sites, food review blogs and websites,, and mentions of the restaurant by name in newspapers and blog searches. We would monitor social media for customers commenting on the quality, cleanliness, or service, as well as anything with your name or market mentioned.
In the case of bad reviews, comments about staff or service, or other issues, we would reply to the comments, report the bad press to the site owners and put higher positioned good comments and reviews above them to drown them out for a quick fix.
We could also use the company’s loyal customers on Facebook and twitter as a tool by encouraging them with social posts to go to that page and share their good experiences to drown out the bad.
If your company has a newsletter, we could call on that to drive traffic to the review website and provide dozens of great reviews in a matter of days.

Reputation defense has become a mainstream industry, and in professional fields it is even more prominent, where bad publicity can hurt for years if someone is spiteful or has a billing issue and decides to rant about it online. Doctors, lawyers, and high-end professionals cannot risk the professional reputation they spent years achieving.
A public page can last for years; it is important to address it quickly and either get it resolved or get it removed.
Negative posts on a lot of social or public sites can go to page one very fast on sites like yahoo answers, review sites, BBB, complaint report sites, and other sites that rank very well and update very quickly. This is the reason having constant monitoring is important.
A business owner can go months without seeing the bad publicity and in that time could lose hundreds of customers due to the angry comments of one bad experience online.
One other way we lessen this bad news, if or when it happens, is through defensive search marketing.

by: Todd Kron

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Cleaning

In case you didn't realize, Mother Nature has decided to skip winter this year and jump right into spring. While I begin to put my sweaters up and take out my shorts from where I buried them months ago, it is time to start thinking about some spring-cleaning. Sure you can clean out the house, garage, or your closet, but it might also be time for your website to have a good cleaning as well.  Out with the old, in with the new, and all that jazz. Below is a quick list of some things you can do this spring to give your website a boost. 

Simple is Usually Better
The days of slamming as much content, images, and gifs onto one page as possible are dead (and should never have occurred). When a webpage is too cluttered with small text and moving images you burden your viewers with an information overload. This won’t lead to a better spread of information but will increase the likelihood that viewers of your site will miss what it is you are actually trying to get across. So go check out your website. If you are still using gifs, huge blocks of small text, or if you are still using a black background and white text, it might be time to give your website a good cleaning.

Embrace Social Media
The best way to reach potential clients or customers now lies in the ability to spread your message via social media outlets. Yes, your site might currently take advantage of Facebook and Twitter (and if not I highly recommend you change this), but there are now so many more options that you can use to draw people to your website.  Flikr, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, Yelp, Foursquare, and LinkedIn all have advantages in drawing attention to both your website and product you are offering. If you do not take advantage of social media, you are going to be left behind, if you haven’t been already.

Content is Important
No matter how pretty your site is, or how important the information is that you are offering, if no one can find your site, all of that information is just sitting there, collecting theoretical internet dust.  Making sure your copy is Search Engine Optimized is a must if you want people to be able to find you on Google. The trick is to start local. You are not going to be able to capture the Google search “Pizza”, not after a couple months, not after a couple years. It is better to first try to capture searches such as “Denver Pizza” or “Asian Style Deep Dish Pizza”. Once you start to build up rank on more specific key words, then you can start to go bold and go for more targeted keywords.

So it is time to freshen up your website for the long spring ahead of us, and if you need help, give us a call, we would love to help. (Sorry, CGR Creative only does website and advertising work; we won't come clean up your garage).