Category: Strategy

Keyword Research Tools & Tips [Powerful SEO Series: Article 2]

This is the second entry in our 8 Steps to Powerful Search Engine Optimization series. Check out Article 1 to learn about website audits!

You: Who needs keyword research, anyway?

Us: Everyone.

You: Everyone?

Us:

Woah … Sorry, about that. Not sure what happened there … Anyway … 

Yes, everyone should do keyword research before optimizing a website, writing new content, or anything related to digital marketing.

Sometimes companies pay for research tools, while others opt for free ones. Here are a few options you might want to consider.

Paid Keyword Research Tools

Marketing companies tend to use paid tools for their keyword research because they give a ton of information in a tidy package. One example of these is the SEMrush management platform.

If you’ve spent a lot of time researching SEO, you’ve probably heard of SEMrush by now. There’s a good reason for that — their platform kicks ass. Especially the Keyword Magic Tool.

When you type in a keyword, you’ll be given a large number of terms and phrases related to it. You’ll also be given data for each keyword, including:

  • Monthly search volume
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Average cost-per-click (CPC)
  • And more

Here’s an example of how a search would look if we used the keyword “keyword research”:

Picture of the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool dashboard.

As you can see, it’s a powerful program. However, it’s also expensive, so might not be the best option for a small business. Let’s take a look at some of the free options available… 

Free Keyword Research Tools That Don’t Suck

This isn’t going to be a comprehensive list because we haven’t tried all of them. BUT, we do use a couple of free keyword research tools that we believe hold their own against pricier choices.

Keywords Everywhere

We use this one to find additional keywords and long-tail keywords to add to our existing list. Keywords Everywhere is a Google Chrome extension and super simple to use.

All you have to do is type in a keyword, click search, and the results will appear on the right-hand side of the search results. The extension will provide you with the trend data for the keyword, along with a bunch of similar keywords that you might be interested in using.

Picture of the free keyword research tool, Keywords Everywhere.

Keyword Surfer

This is another Google Chrome extension that we use often. When you search for a keyword, Keyword Surfer provides monthly search volume, estimated CPC, and a list of keyword ideas related to your search.

Basically, this tool can give you all the information you need to properly optimize your website’s meta titles, meta descriptions, headers, and on-page content. Here’s an example when we searched for “keyword research tools”:

Picture of the free keyword research tool, Keyword Surfer.

Potential Shortcomings of Free Keyword Tools

Free technology usually has its quirks. For example, sometimes Google’s shopping ads at the top of the search results will block the keyword boxes. It doesn’t happen often, but even one research session can throw off a project.

Another inconvenience is that, while it’s free to use the base functionality of these tools, there are elements of them that might require payments. It’s not enough to hinder the experience, but definitely something to be aware of.

We Can Help You With Your Digital Marketing

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Level-Up Your Digital Marketing

Picture of laptop with SEO graphic on screen

8 Steps to Powerful Search Engine Optimization

There’s a lot of negative stuff going on right now, so we wanted to throw some good vibes out on the interwebz. Did that make me sound cool? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Anywho…

We’re a digital marketing agency. It’s our job to make people visible online and help them get more customers. How do we do it? A bunch of ways, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Here are the 8 steps we take to give clients some mighty SEO:

1) Website Audit

What’s working? What’s not? This audit helps us find out and create solutions. We use 4 tools to make it happen:

  • Brightlocal (for local SEO)
  • SITEBULB (for technical SEO)
  • Screaming Frog
  • Ahrefs

These programs give us a whole bunch of data, which we breakdown to establish a distinct strategy and road map. Learn more about website SEO audits here.

2) Competitive Analysis

This one’s pretty straightforward. We take a look at competitor websites, social media channels, and other digital pathways to see what they’re doing and how we can make our clients stand out.

3) Keyword Research

“Google it.” People use Google search so much that the name’s become a verb. For companies to show up in search results, they need to weave relevant keywords into their content.

We’ve used tools like SEM Rush and Keyword Surfer to research the industry keywords that matter most to our clients. The trick is finding that sweet spot where keywords incorporate elements of:

  • Accurate user intent
  • Strong and steady search volume
  • Low keyword difficulty

Learn about some paid and free keyword research tools here.

4) Website Optimization

Once we’ve completed keyword research, we can optimize client web pages to make sure they’re scannable and helpful to users. Some areas we update include:

  • Title tags and meta descriptions
  • Headers
  • Linking

One big reason why unique, keyword-rich title tags and meta descriptions matter: Google search results. Optimizing your title tags and descriptions ensures you’re getting the right message across to potential customers. Here’s an example:

5) Creation of Relevant Content

Tailored messaging helps make brands unique. We write web pages, blog posts, email blasts, and any other content the client needs to grab people’s interest and lead them down the funnel.

6) Development of Proper Code for Each Web Page

Website speeds and load times are a critical search engine ranking factor. But this becomes muddled when companies buy pre-made website themes and templates.

Off-the-shelf or out-of-the-box themes often have a ton of functions because the developers are trying to appease as many needs as possible for end-users.

The problem? People end up with a ton of unneeded code (code bloat), which is a common issue for site speed. We do our development in-house to ensure it’s done right, every time.

Our developer creates a custom theme for every website we build based on the PSD file requirements. No extra code is added and load times and site speeds are as fast as possible. 

7) Google My Business (GMB) Optimization

Have you seen the GMB commercials Google has been pushing during NFL games this year? They wouldn’t be plugging it so much if they didn’t want businesses to make it a priority.

Make no mistake, GMB listings are a big deal for SEO. The more helpful information you give, the higher up you’ll appear. Sometimes the GMB listings are the very first section in the results!

8) Ongoing Monitoring and Adjustments

SEO isn’t something you can simply do once and forget about it. It requires constant observation and updating because Google (and other search engines) are constantly shifting.

We keep up with best practices while monitoring Google’s algorithm updates. We make small and large changes to code and content to keep companies relevant and their websites ranking.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

See How You Can Improve Your Marketing

5 Mistakes in Your Ads That Keep Customers Away

It’s not hard to find a place for your advertisements—websites, social media and mailers (to name a few) are all great places for reaching your customers. But is your ad itself ready to be shown to the world?

An advertisement is like a cake: it needs to be carefully constructed because one wrong ingredient can ruin the whole experience. Take a look at these 5 common advertising mistakes to make sure your ads are good enough to make sales.

Mistake #1: Having too many goals

Each ad you put in a mailbox or on a webpage should have only one goal. Are you trying to introduce your brand for the first time? Want to entice your viewer into your store or onto your website? Or are you simply reminding your audience that you exist?

Having one goal can help steer how you make your ad while stuffing in too many objectives can confuse the reader so much that they move onto the next ad and ignore yours altogether.

Too many goals get lost in the noise. This ad has two calls-to-action plus coupon offers.

This ad has one simple goal that you can’t miss.

Keep your goal as simple as possible. Try one of these objectives:

  • I want them to fill out a form
  • I want them to know my company exists
  • I want them to call my number
  • I want them to change their mind
  • I want them to make a purchase
  • I want them to avoid a competitor
  • I want them to know where my store is
  • I want them to ask for a quote

 

Mistake #2: Using random colors, fonts and voices

Think of your ad as if you’re calling your customer on the phone or showing up at their door—they should be able to recognize you within a few seconds.

Using your branded colors, fonts, voice and marketing styles will make you identifiable (and can make your company appear strong and grounded).

Zerorez uses its branded colors and styles for a clean, recognizable look.

If you use randomly chosen colors and typefaces, you run the risk of not only poor design but also not standing out among the thousands of ads people see each month.

Aside from the logo, QuickenLoans uses so little branding that this ad barely stands out.

If you don’t have defined branding, use colors that stand out but don’t over-stimulate, typefaces that are legible for the media (don’t use thin, small lettering on a billboard), and a brand voice that your target audience wants to hear.

Mistake #3: Stuffing in too many elements

Aside from having too many goals, using too many on-page elements within the ad is an easy way to become background noise.

This ad has so much going on, it’s hard to tell who the company is.

Don’t get caught up in the unnecessary details:

  • Too many images
  • The word “phone” before your phone number
  • The word “email” before your email address
  • Design just to fill white space
  • The “www.” before your web address
  • Multiple calls-to-action
  • Social media icons

This ad has a logo, a simple message and attractive art. Even the revere leaves out unnecessary clutter.

Mistake #4: Making your logo too large

You understandably want your logo to be seen, but customers care more about what they can get from you, not necessarily who you are.

Making your logo too large takes away valuable space in other parts of your ad.

It can also attract too much attention—instead of guiding your readers’ eyes to the main purpose of the ad (headline, call-to-action, button), they may spend their few viewing seconds on your logo and move onto the next ad.

There’s little reason for Waste Management’s logo to take up most of the ad.

Well-designed logos are also recognizable even if they are placed smaller in an ad. Unless you’re introducing your brand for the first time, it’s okay to leave your logo readable, but smaller in size.

Irwin’s logo stands out even at 2% the size of the ad.

Mistake #5: Not knowing your audience

Having a defined target audience will make all other aspects of an ad fall into place. Certain demographics view more billboards. Some are more enticed by bright, flashy colors. Others prefer to read several paragraphs of copy.

If you haven’t yet, figure out exactly who your target audience is and use their habits and interests while marketing to them. This can be done via market research, checking out your Google analytics or creating a profile of the majority of your current customers.

Google Analytics gives you an in-depth look at your audience.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

See How You Can Improve Your Marketing

Picture of laptop with Google on screen

Optimizing Your Google My Business For COVID-19

Everyone looks to the internet for answers. They’re also shifting their searches to be more localized (e.g., “Grocery store near me.” or “Grocery store in my city.”). To adjust to this reality, businesses need to modify their digital marketing strategies.

With the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) causing major problems in the economy and daily life, it’s more important now than ever to have up-to-date messaging and profiles. Here are a few quick tips for communicating with your customers:

  • Add a banner or update on your website with a message (This could be a link to a page with a longer message from the company owner).
  • Share messages and regular communications and updates on every appropriate social media channel.
  • Update your Google My Listing through the COVID-19 section and “special” hours section.

Our primary focus for this blog will be Google My Business. If you’re completely new to Google My Business, please read this blog post first. If you’re familiar with Google My Business and are ready to learn more, let’s dive in!

Using Google My Business During COVID-19

Businesses around the world are feeling the impact of COVID-19. They’re implementing changes to their cleaning processes and hours of operation, along with shifting to remote work and delivering products and services through online channels. Customers are increasingly looking online for the status of local businesses, and their first stop is often Google My Business and Google Maps. Here are some tips:

1) New Google Post type for the COVID-19 update section. Add a message and update every 14 days.

Here’s an example of the copy we write for these posts:

“Just a friendly reminder: As of 5/11/2020, CG Marketing Group remains open during our regular business hours (M-F, 7:30 AM – 4 PM). We’re taking necessary precautions to keep our staff and customers safe, but we’re here for your business during this difficult time.”

Businesses are also allowed to update their name with “delivery only” or “curbside pick-up only”.

2) The Temporarily Closed feature is available in the info section of the dashboard. Using this feature does not affect visibility or rankings. This is especially helpful for gyms, eye clinics, and other businesses that can’t currently operate under COVID-19 restrictions. Here’s an example of a temporarily closed listing:

Google My Business COVID-19 Changes & Updates

If you’ve been fairly active with your Google My Business profile, that’s great! However, there have been some changes since the pandemic started. Here are some temporary updates and changes Google has made so far:

  • April 7th Update: Google restored the ability of business owners to respond to reviews.  Review functionality is partially back (While business owners can respond, there is a lag time in publishing them). Reviews left should be published in the coming weeks.
  • April 8 Update: Google started temporarily limiting GMB functionality due to COVID-19.  The Google team took precautionary measures to protect their team members, which means they’re operating with a limited team. In other words, things might be slow-moving for a while, so patience will be necessary.
  • May 11 Update: This update gives retailers the ability to add a donation link, gift card link, or both to their profile. They can also make personalized posts to inform customers how funds will be used.
  • The Questions & Answers section was “removed” but should be back live in the coming weeks.
  • The Suggest An Edit option for listings is paused and any suggested updates will be delayed until further notice.
  • A new alert banner now appears in the info section of your GMB dashboard that says “Based on recent updates, this business has been marked as closed (Yes/No).” When you select “Yes”, there will be a new option in the info section under the header “Reopen This Business On Google”. You can then select “Mark As Open”.
  • Essential businesses are getting the most attention right now. Non-Essential cannot claim a new listing or update their listings other than the COVID update at this time.
  • If you manage multiple locations, you can update Special Hours via bulk upload or API, but with the Temporarily Closed feature, you will need to manually enable this function.

Don’t Forget Bing

Bing Local also now has a specific COVID update option as well. The Bing Places portal has launched some new features to help your business respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with updates for your customers on your Bing search listing.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

There has been a lot of disruption to regular business operations and there will likely be more to come. That’s why it’s crucial for your business to communicate effectively with your current and potential customers through all social media channels, Google My Business, and Bing. 

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Learn About Our Digital Marketing Services

Digital Marketing For Lawyers

Hey, lawyers! Ready to get your name out there and show the world how awesome you are? Good! We’re here to help you dominate in your practice area. Your website will get to the top of every Google search result and leads will be flying in like they’re being blasted through a firehose. SEO works INSTANTLY. Once you do these simple steps, there’s NOTHING that will stop you…

You’ve heard something like that before, right? That marketing pitch where the person offers a magic carpet that’ll carry you to the land of flowing website traffic and unlimited leads. Are you sitting down? Because this might sting a little…

The Brutal Truth

The odds are probably not in your favor. Your law firm will most likely not rank in the #1 position for a keyword like “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy”, for example. It’s frustrating, but it’s also a reality.

The top spaces for generic legal terms are usually held by major companies and authoritative informational websites. Here are the results for a search for the phrase “Chapter 7 Bankruptcy”:

I know what you’re thinking. “Hey! That big-box marketing company told me that they could get me in the number one spot for every keyword in the universe!”

I’m going to have to rip the bandage off on this one: That major marketing company lied to you. Is it possible to show up near the top of the search results? Of course, and every SEO company strives to make that happen for their clients, especially in the pristine local pack with the map. But if you want success, you need to have realistic expectations and emphasize the right strategies. Here are a few key points:

Consider Paid Advertising

Paid digital ads (Often called pay-per-click or PPC) are the first listings that appear in the search results, even before any organic results. If you want to be literally at the top of the results, then you’re going to have to pay for it. If you have the budget, determination, and strategy, Google Ads are definitely the right path to take. It’s immediate gratification.

Now for the negative side of this tactic: Due to the highly competitive nature of the legal realm, you’re probably going to have to pay a LOT of money to bid on the right keywords that will generate valuable clicks to your website. Depending on your specific practice area and your location, keywords could be extremely high-priced. We’ve seen keywords have bids anywhere from $10 per click all the way up to $90 per click.

Focus On Local SEO

There are a handful of lawyers who take on national cases, but most law firms practice in a specific region. We already demonstrated how it can be an uphill battle to rank for broad legal terms, but here’s another thing to consider: People who search for general terms (e.g., “Bankruptcy”) might not be looking for your services. They are likely seeking free information about bankruptcy as a topic.

There are around 165,000 per month on average for the keyword “bankruptcy”. That’s not 165,000 people who are looking to file for bankruptcy each month.

  • Some are doing research for a paper
  • Others are searching for legal jargon on their phones while they’re discussing things with friends at the bar
  • And many more are simply looking it up because they’re bored and saw it mentioned on TV

Keyword research is one of the biggest steps to make sure the terms and phrases you’re targeting will be focused in order to generate conversions. For example, “bankruptcy lawyers in (your city)” is more likely to generate conversions than simply, “bankruptcy.”

Load Up Your Google My Business Listing

OWN and manage your Google My Business (GMB) listing (or pay an agency to manage it for you. You want to load it up with as much information as possible. GMB listings are often the first thing people see right after the paid ads, as shown here:

This is also referred to as the “local pack”. Search engines have been doing something interesting in recent years. They’re shifting the emphasis of results to provide people with local options for their inquiries. The reason for this is because many people are looking for products and services by adding, “near me,” to the end of their searches. For example, “Bankruptcy lawyers near me.”

If you’ve thoroughly filled out your GMB listing with important, relevant information about your law firm, you’ll have the chance to appear near the top of search results based on your proximity to the people searching for your services.

Our Seasoned Law Firm Marketing Agency Can Help You

With more than 14 years of experience specifically marketing for law firms, we’ll create a strategy to help set your law firm apart from your competition and attract new clients. Getting website traffic is important, but it’s more critical to get RELEVANT traffic that converts.

We’ll help your law firm:

  • Attract relevant website traffic and convert new clients
  • Be seen as an authority in your practice area
  • Outperform and outrank competitor law firms
  • Has a high-performing website that serves as a 24/7 sales tool

Your law firm is unique; your SEO strategies should be, too. What works for one law firm may not work for you and vice versa. We’ll develop, design, create, and execute customized digital and direct marketing strategies based on your needs. Our custom marketing strategies can help your law firm maximize your online visibility in an effort to increase leads.

  • Get in front of your prospects before your competition finds them
  • Eliminate unnecessary risk and the loss of revenue from failed or non-existent digital marketing tactics and amateur websites
  • Improve performance, optimize search, and beat your competitors to market through unique messaging and custom digital strategies
  • Lower cost means removing the burden of limited or no resources
  • Accelerate speed to market – get to market faster and with better results
  • More growth, more expertise, faster cycle times for consumer-facing marketing and acquisitions

We have client relationships that expand well over a decade. That speaks for itself. We provide complete transparency to our clients weekly and monthly. Want to know what we are working on? Just ask us. We’ll communicate ongoing about our strategies and tactics.

Spend less time on marketing and more time practicing law. Let us focus on what we are good at, while you take care of your clients.

Contact Us Today To Get A Free Digital Marketing Evaluation And Consultation

Encouragement For Our Digital Marketing Clients During COVID-19

“In times of a crisis, average companies fail, good ones survive and great ones transform.” – Unknown Author

One of our partners, Jeremy Lott (President of Sanmar), shared this quote with us along with some thoughts of his own:

“On some days we are average. Most days we are good. But today we have no choice but to be great. I don’t want to sugarcoat things or be overly optimistic. Real people are losing their jobs, many are getting sick, and too many are dying. The next few weeks and months will be hard. Our only chance is to transform.

Let’s do it together. We are here for you.”

This is a profound message. In a time like this, “average” simply isn’t good enough. Even “good” is barely good enough. As a marketing company, we’re not considered essential, but we consider our services essential to your brand. Maybe your particular company is also viewed as a “non-essential” business. But we want you to know that we haven’t forgotten about you or put you on the backburner. To us, you are essential.

CG Marketing Group is open, and that means we’re striving to give you the best service possible. NOT average. People may not be searching for your specific products and services at this time, but they will eventually.

We’re working hard to create great content for your brand so that when the time comes, people will find your website and see an elite level of quality. These are difficult times, but you’re not alone. We’ll all get through this together. In the meantime, here is some advice on how to handle digital marketing in a Coronavirus world.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Email Us For Any Questions

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