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  • Normally, our SEO clients get a report each month that explains, along with their rankings, what is happening with their account.  At the time of the reports, we mentioned Google releasing a major algorithm shift in early August. We didn't know what to say at the time, except to just mention it and promise to study it. This algorithm update was one the most drastic changes we have seen in a long time. This time they weren't going after a specific target, but the nature of websites altogether! No site

  • Welcome to 2018. Everything in Internet Marketing is about to change. At least that's what they are all going to say in all of the prediction blog posts you will read. Everyone seems to be posting their predictions about 2018 because they know that no one goes back a year to verify accuracy. The prognosticator is king for a year.  If they happen to get one right, they get to brag the whole next year.But they don't care if they dn't.  They got what they wanted. These posted predictions are just

  • Mobile-Friendly Isn't Just a Choice Anymore You probably have already heard that Google was going to give preference to mobile sites. Although they threatened months ago, and you didn't see a difference, they have gone and done it. The change is being rolled out slowly, so you might not see it yet - and you my see a lot of volatility on Google results now; and probably rarely on your desktop or laptop. They decided to put mobile friendly sites first where the most people search - on mobile devices. Google

  • The concept of marketing online carries with it an air of mystery, and it can feel like walking with a blindfold. Campaigning within the magical world of algorithms, indexes, coding and spiders isn’t very tangible, making it hard to fully understand. There is no definitive source from which to learn everything, and the information is constantly in motion. Since our world is more engaged online than ever, though, having a proper online presence is critical to business success. So, we put together a short list of common fallacies, so that

  • Let's face it. If you look online, there are 1000s of SEO blogs and articles on how to do SEO or quick and easy shortcuts. SEO advice also fills your email box and it's a quick Google search away. Much of the advice is accurate to an extent, but it depends on when it was written and the other conditions of your website presence and online competitive atmosphere. And yes, I'm being vague on purpose. Well, read it all but to quote the old Thin Lizzy song, "Don't believe a word

  • Let’s face it. If you look online, there are 1000s of SEO blogs and articles on how to do SEO or quick and easy shortcuts. SEO advice also fills your email box and it’s a quick Google search away. Much of the advice is accurate to an extent, but it depends on when it was written and the other conditions of your website presence and online competitive atmosphere. And yes, I’m being vague on purpose. Well, read it all but to quote the old Thin Lizzy song, “Don’t believe a word

  • The Easy Way Comes with Risks Taking shortcuts can typically get us to our destination more quickly. Taking certain marketing shortcuts, however, can cause irreparable damage to your business image. Whether you are advertising on air, in print, or online, everything you do should be done well. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an expense that never gets recouped, and a business that struggles to survive. Shortcut #1: An Ineffective Landing Page or Website When it comes to advertising your business, it is better to be invisible than to be visibly unimpressive. We stumbled

  • Get Involved and Stand Out Gone are the days of handing off your SEO campaign to someone to “handle it” without your involvement. Sure, it can be done, but not remarkably. Much is lost without you. Search engines need to know that you are current, active and producing the useful content expected from the experts. Otherwise, they’ll assume the opposite and rank you in the bowels of organic search results accordingly. As such, you must make sure that the information and expertise that makes your business unique trickles down to the

  • It’s an exciting time when you make a big marketing move with your business. You’ve done your research and you’re ready to start looking at agencies to do the work. You need your website to be state-of-the-art and your name to rest comfortably on the front page of Google. The perfect cocktail of web design, SEO and online advertising is about to be mixed. So, let the bidding begin! But wait… Are you really going to hand over your web presence to the lowest bidder? Before you go down with

  • As you look at your competitors online, you may wonder why they deserve to be ranked higher in the results than you. After all, you have a bigger, better website will all the right SEO ingredients - your software, a blog article, or even your prior SEO person even said so. You’re blogging like mad, using proper headline tags and sprinkling keywords in all the right places. So, why does Google give the other "lesser" sites so much credit? The answer is simple. Google has almost gone full lock, stock

  • If you want a “cheap” way to drum up new business, you need an effective strategy. That may not equate to bargain basement prices, but it will equate to getting the best return on the investment you make. What you don’t want is a low-cost venture that causes you to lose potential revenue because it can’t get the job done. You need the right message, in the right place, at the right time, for the right price. Here are some tips on how to spend as little as possible to

  • Have you ever driven all over town to get what you needed for a project, only to find out later that you could have gotten them all in one place? You may have contracted with us to build a website or get your business found online, but we want to take a moment to make sure that you know the extent of what we do right here under one roof. We are a full-service marketing agency that specializes in website design and development, search engine optimization, Google paid search, social

  • Perhaps the biggest mistake that a business owner can make is doing something half-way. If you wouldn’t sell sub-par products, and wouldn’t offer sub-par service, why are so many people content with sub-par marketing efforts? It’s not logical, but a fairly common phenomenon. If you take your marketing seriously, you need to consider these questions: Why send people to a poor destination (like an inactive Facebook page or outdated website)? Why build a great website only to fill it with amateur images and/or video? Why ask people to call when you don’t have someone

  • For the last year or so, marketing professionals have tossed around the idea that SEO was dead. We now know that a more accurate statement would be that keywords, for the most part, are as irrelevant as the typewriter. There are better tools to get the job done. Thanks to Google’s massive shift towards search concepts and meaning rather than individual search terms, businesses are being found in a whole new way. That’s a good thing; and, SEO has a prominent place in that process. Today when a person puts a

  • Many people approach an online marketing agency like they would an auto mechanic. They come in armed with just enough knowledge to "protect" themselves. Honestly, it’s  understandable why you might feel on guard. There are plenty of marketing scams out there, from blatant false promises to carefully concocted semantics designed to mislead. One of our primary goals is to educate; so, we are going to give you some insider wisdom to use in your pursuit of promotion. The Affiliation S-t-r-e-t-c-h Before anything, check into the agency’s reputation using all the resources you

  • Embracing social media isn’t natural for every business owner. Still, having a social presence has so much proven value that a slew of accounts are being set up every day. No one wants to miss out on the action. The problem is, many accounts either stagnate or never really get going in the first place. That’s what happens when you get drawn in by the hype, but have either no time or no idea what to do with it after the fact. It’s time to be responsible with your social

  • Marketers will say just about anything to get your money. The fact is, getting rich on the Internet is something anyone can do…without a major time or money investment! Step One: Build It and They Will Come All advertising needs an ultimate destination. So, you need to build yourself a website. This step is super-simple and doesn’t have to cost you a penny. There are plenty of high-quality drag-and-drop sites out there that you can obtain free of charge. You will be amazed at how quickly you will have your professional site

  • The two marketing methods that we get asked about the most are SEO and Social Media. People want to know which one is better, how can they do it themselves, and if those efforts make a difference anyway. It’s hard not to chuckle when there is an expectation that a quick one-size-fits-all answer could be spewed out on the spot. As I presume my friend Albert would agree, it’s all relative. Which one is better, SEO or Social Media? SEO and Social Media seek out two entirely different audiences, and which one

  • Advances in technology are making information on products and services accessible from almost anywhere. So, of course, business owners are lining up to modernize their websites and make use of these high-tech tools. Lately, the chatter is all about mobile apps; but, not every cool thing out there is a perfect fit for your business. The proliferation of apps and those heralding them would have you believe that they were a “must have” for everyone. So, the people we talk to often want to know if they actually need an app

  • When we see the same few things hurting businesses day after day, we think it is our responsibility to point it out. It’s always better that you know the truth, right? There are a multitude of marketing methods that you might use to grow your business, and plenty of opportunities to make sub-optimal decisions…and lose money. Here are 10 things that will get you in trouble every time. 1. “Imitating the Mistakes of Others” – Business people are competitive by nature. Everybody seems to be keeping one eye on the other

  • Clever marketers loosely throw the SEO acronym around, hoping to attract those who are desperate for search engine prowess. The fact is, SEO is many things, and what comes at low cost or bundled into a website design package almost never has the power to move you anywhere near page one of Google…and certainly not for the five dollars I saw advertised. A cheap SEO service may save you a little cash, but you won't earn a lot from it either, if anything. In fact, it's more likely that you'll

  • I’m a bit far removed from the actual gold mining experience; yet, it does make for a perfect Internet Marketing analogy. First, everybody who heads to the hills (and to the front page of Google) expects to get rich. Second, not everyone does. Let me explain not only why that is the case; but, how to increase your chances of success. The guy who strikes out on his own with the tools he had in the shed is not fully convinced that he will find gold. He minimizes his investment in

  • We all know what spam looks like when we receive it in our inbox. But, you may be an accidental spammer yourself; and, getting blocked by ISPs and email programs can put a serious dent in your message. Modern anti-spam programs are fairly sophisticated, and it’s worth your while to understand how to avoid the filters. I will try to break it down to its simplest terms. There are several things that the spam filters look at when scouting for spam. Each item has a point value; so, a single issue

  • This year, many business owners are choosing to open on Thanksgiving Day so that shoppers can get a head start on Black Friday shopping. I am going to call it Gray Thursday because, for most business owners, this decision falls in a gray area. I guess we also need a name for the Friday before Black Friday, since Best Buy customers are camping out a full week ahead of the event. On second thought, let’s leave that one alone. Some are even saying we’ve practically created a Black November. So,

  • Stores are gearing up for holiday sales both online and off; and, every year gets a little more competitive than the last. So, you need to take action now. There are obvious things to consider; but, it is important to take a close look at your marketing campaign and how it might be tweaked for the occasion. 1. First and foremost, your website should be lean and mean, easy to navigate and run without a single functional glitch. Make sure your software is up-to-date and your hosting plan can accommodate an

  • In many ways, building a website is like building a brand new house. You buy the land (or URL), research, design, then build. After your house is complete and you move in, however, there are things you do periodically to keep your home safe and in good working order. Websites are no different, yet most people build them and walk away, leaving them wide open for a myriad of problems. Keep Software Current A website and all of its elements should be completely current when the site is handed over to you.

  • You may have heard some rumblings about Google's brand new Hummingbird algorithm. Although it was just recently announced, it has actually been in effect for over a month. It completely replaces the old algorithm; but, that doesn’t mean that it’s made of completely new parts. Basically, it keeps keep the things that were working well and adds a new level of website and search comprehension to the mix. Why name it ‘Hummingbird’? Well, it’s about precision and speed. Keywords have been becoming less and less important each year, and Hummingbird is

  • Before you jump into Facebook with both feet, consider your methodology. If you don’t have one, get one. Many businesses start a page, then never post. Others post so irregularly that their fans don’t even know they are there. Then, there are those who post like maniacs and don’t understand why it’s not making them money. While posting is quite simple, effective “Facebooking” requires a systematic approach to truly benefit to your business. Just ask anyone who has gone before you! Here are six things that you need to be aware

  • Specializing has always been an effective marketing tool for businesses, and it’s a hot new trend for marketing agencies. This year, it’s all about the niche. The problem is, many niche market marketers are not true specialists. In the past few months, a number of people have come to me very excited about the marketing service they found online that caters to their particular field. The reasoning behind hiring a niche market specialist is sound. People will buy from those they believe understand them and their needs the best. Writers will

  • Working out doesn’t require a trip to the gym. Taxed muscles and a sweaty brow can happen anywhere. To make it count, however, you have to intentionally push yourself past the point of physical exhaustion, and engage your brain in the fight. You only really start doing yourself some good after it hurts. It’s the same with business. You can work hard all day every day, but until you’ve pushed yourself to the limit, you have not tapped into all the value you are able to provide to your customers…and you

  • It is nearly impossible to leave the house and not pass a few of the 23 million small businesses in this country. Someone shows up at the same time each day, opens the door, and customers roll in. Whether they have been there for weeks or decades, the routine is the same. Therein lies the illusion. A big change has occurred, and even business owners may not realize it…until they see the little business down the street on the front page of Google. Business owners need to be aware of not

  • You may have heard the buzz about another monster Google algorithm update that hit the SEO realm last week. There was warning, but it still caught many by surprise as it came out months before expected. This was a major algorithm update, and it affected many businesses. But, there is good news! The impact of what is being called “Penguin 2.0” was minimal for our clients, many even moving up in Google rankings. Because we keep up with changes and adjust our strategy on an ongoing basis, our work is usually

  • When we evaluate a website, the first step is to give it a 30 second fitness test. Seriously, that’s how long it takes to determine whether a website is minimally equipped to compete for both visitor and search engine attention. There are certain telltale signs that a website is out-of-date (or modern, but poorly built) that stand out like a girl wearing a blue dress on Yellow Dress Day. In a glance, your website needs to very obviously declare its purpose to the visitor without distractions. A general rule of thumb

  • Many of the tightly held beliefs people have about SEO are rooted in what used to be true, sometimes last week, sometimes years ago. An ever-changing popularity map, the rules of search engine cool have to be revisited frequently. While I could unravel literally hundreds of SEO myths, I thought it best to start with fifteen. 1. Only the number 1 rank matters. – Actually, studies show that users often skip right over number one. The more serious searchers tend to be more persistent as they look for exactly what they

  • In line with increased use of the Internet as a revenue generator, the term “SEO” has entered mainstream vernacular. Problem is, many people misunderstand its meaning. That has created a whole slew of well-intentioned people who "know enough to be dangerous", often employing outdated practices to the detriment of a company’s page rank. We’d like to bring you up to speed with what “real” SEO currently is and isn’t, as well as expose the tactics that web designers sometimes use to make it seem like game-changing SEO is part of the

  • Have you ever thought, When I’m successful in business, I’m going to give back to the community? Perhaps you are doing it, or maybe growing your business took more effort than you thought and philanthropy was put on hold. What if I told that the time or money you put into charitable endeavors could be an incredible marketing tool AND make the world a better place at the same time? To me, it sounds like I just saved you money, made you money and made your philanthropic dream a very

  • The incredible control over targeting your audience and spending on quality clicks that convert to customers in AdWords is, by far, the greatest leap for advertising this century.  No other medium can boast such audience data and allow instant campaign refinement according to that data.  On top of that, Google is doing everything in its power to make Paid Search accessible to all, most notably with AdWords Express.  But, how do you make sure it helps you actually make money and grow your business?  Well, you just have to do

  • By now, you have likely heard of Facebook’s humorous entry into the search game.  While humor was not the intention, a Tumblr parody account spun it funny with great success.  So, what is Graph Search and how will it affect your business?  In short, it’s a highly targeted search of Facebook friend history; and, it should be a good thing for businesses on Facebook. Graph Search has been lauded as a search that could potentially outrun Google.  If you have experience with paid promotions on Facebook, you know how great it

  • For your business to grow, you need to have concrete goals which are measured on a regular basis.  They serve as both motivation and critical checkpoints.  Increasing sales or getting more clients is not specific enough.  You need to determine how much you want and how soon you want it.  From there, you can put together a strategy, execute it, and measure your success against it. Business goals are not so different from personal ones.  If you set out to lose weight, you would start with a number.  Let’s say it’s

  • Around December each year, we fix our eyes on the coming New Year.  We envision bigger successes, both personal and professional.  We are full of hope and ready to work hard, right after we get back from vacation.  So, what is it that will make 2013 even better than this year?  Well, it starts with taking a good look at 2012…right now. Businesses cannot grow based solely on an inspirational New Year’s resolution, although inspiration is always a good start.  It takes a good hard look at what has happened up

  • Have you ever thought that there just has to be one thing you could do to propel your business to financial glory?  You are not alone.  Business owners constantly scour competitors advertising in search of the missing link.  While it is always good to keep an eye on the competition, proceed with caution.  From the outside, you have no idea what is bringing their success, or what their books look like. There are a lot of illusions out there. Illusion #1:  With a great new website, I should be at the

  • Do you lower your gaze and mumble when someone asks if you have a company website? If so, I would guess that it has something to do with the fact that the website was created circa 1997 in basic HTML. Or, perhaps you designed one last month just before you ordered new business cards with a different look or logo. You may still be wondering if the free or low cost drag-and-drop site was the way to go; but, at least you have one you tell yourself. Some of you

  • In the excitement of growing a business, almost all owners sometimes wonder if they could be doing more. That is when they look for someone outside to tell them what is wrong. My best advice? If you have a marketing strategy that is working, you should stick with it - maybe find ways to fine tune it. Second-guessing yourself is not how you got into business, and it isn’t the way to stay in business. If you are producing positive results, why in the world would you abandon the strategy? Every

  • Social Media is still hot and will likely remain so until something comes along to unseat it. The problem is most companies that are doing Facebook on their own (it's easy, right?) are doing things wrong that can sabotage their own success. If your business is on Facebook, there are common mistakes that should be avoided. The point is to create interesting content that engages your target audience. Anything else is a waste of your time and money. As well, you are blowing a golden opportunity to grow your base

  • I was reading my daily dose of email newsletters, when I came across an old, but great article from www.searchengineland.com. It covered seven reasons about how now is a great time for a pay per click (ppc) campaign. These are discussions I have had with many people – this article did it succinctly in one page. Here’s a little help to make it even easier for you rule the next marketing discussion. Here is a summary of the article that discusses the untapped potential in this channel. Most of your untapped

  • During this year's SXSW media week in Austin, TX, Google did something out of character. It was something so big that we must all take heed. You have to understand the history before I announce what it is. previously, Google was usually closed lipped on algorithm changes and became more so after BING proved to be a possible threat. However, this big over the shoulder statement flowed as easy as poison in the ears of many SEO companies.  They announced the impending launch of a new over-optimization penalty to “level

  • A funny thing happened on the way to this blog.  I was going to write about one thing, but I noticed a key thing missing from most websites and ad campaigns. It’s simple – really. I really zero in on it probably due to my marketing background (that began with a major award in high school) and an MBA long before I really got involved in Internet Marketing (SEO and SEM).  On a daily basis, I devour television commercials, see newspaper and magazine ads as well as billboards and I can blow holes in them based on marketing fundamentals. Even reading the average business taglines/slogans I come across every day sends me in internal fits. The same can be true when it comes to many, many companies and their Internet websites and presence. It seems  sometimes Internet pros forget the marketing part.

  • So we finally started one. The Spiral Cities blog, your resource for all things marketing, is here. If I had to name the most powerful Internet Marketing tool in the competitive business arena, the answer is simple. There isn't one. It’s not any one strategy, inspiring tweets, or even a bank account brimming with marketing dollars waiting to be purposed. It's not SEO, SEM or Social Media. There are tricks, hot trends and insider scoops; but, most don’t stand the test of time. What you really need is solid knowledge - solid marketing.

  • At the request of a soldier in the trenches (I’m talking the sales trenches, not Afghanistan), I am writing an entire blog on why an advertiser in Google may never see their own ad and how that really doesn’t matter. Of course, there’s more than just the few reasons I am listing… but really, do any of them really matter? There are many technological reasons that you may never see your ad. Here are a few: IP Addresses - You IP address has a history. Your search and click history determines what