Questions about Online Marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Unfortunately, there are so many individual causes of you to lose rank or drop in place on search engines, there is no one single cause. Sometimes you simply have more competition under certain search terms. You could have been penalized by circumventing systems. You may have outdated content, while other websites offer more refreshing updated content. Your website might not be search engine friendly... There are so many reasons, the most important thing is that you have an online marketing agency like Make it Active, LLC, helping ensure you get on top (or as close to the top as possible), and stay there.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a marketing term which involves optimizing your website for search engines to increase your place online. This helps users find your website when doing searches online, is cost effective, and offers the opportunity to turn leads leads into customers by utilizing commonly used terms or specific terms or nomenclature that can guide potential clients to your website.
SEO does "level off" at some point, occasionally, but it is never ineffective. I have worked with companies to bring them up to number one on key terms. In one example, a company I worked with became number 1 on all main product categories after I had worked with them for over a year. So I started noticing their traffic leveling off slightly, remaining almost the same, though still showing a slight increase that I would usually attribute to being an insignificant increase (a few percent). It was at that point, I spent my time keeping them in place, and learned very quickly that it wasn't the time to become complacent. Just reducing my efforts for 2 weeks, saw a decrease to third place for several keywords.
Complacency is never an option with SEO, and while promoting the concept of a permanent budget for SEO may seem like an attempt at simply trying to keep the Online Marketing industry alive, it is in fact a legitimate point, because there will always be someone ready to unseat you, whether you are a 5th place, or 1st place.
Sometimes (just sometimes), decreases are good. Also, sometimes (just sometimes), decreases are not bad. For example, if your website is currently linked on a bunch of bad backlink websites and directories (an SEO scam from yesteryear that some SEO companies still use), it may show increases, but these increases almost always make for poor leads, and random traffic. So, if you hire a professional, that is focused on improving the quality of your website traffic, which is far more important than quantity, you may in fact see a decrease in traffic, but an increase in sales. Also, long term growth is what you're looking for, not just short term bursts in traffic. As long as the long term results are consistent, it might mean you found "one of the good ones."
SEO is long term, so sometimes you will find around a 5% variance in traffic up or down, it's never a reason to get concerned unless it continues month after month. Think of it this way, if your website analytics show 500 new visitors, and you see an increase in sales, but the following month, there is a decrease by 25 visitors; you are still seeing an increase by 475 visitors over the previous months before the increase. The point is, variance is normal, and expected. If that carries on for a few month, now it's something to be concerned about. Sometimes professional SEO's get lazy, and may do things the right way, but eventually focus less on specific "safe" clients, whose rank has been consistent. The problem with this is, it gives a competitor an "in" to bump you out of place. Remember, for every dollar you are spending on SEO or Online Marketing, one of your competitors is also spending that same money (or more).
We never get complacent here at Make it Active, LLC. Instead, we have specific hours dedicated to specific clients every week. No client get's left behind with Make it Active!
So if everything is being done the "white hat" way, how can you tell if the analytics results you are getting are accurately reflecting website growth? Simple: watch the numbers. Are your numbers increasing, consistently, overtime? Do your sales show a pattern similar to the increases in website traffic? For example, if you are a small retail store, and have seen a 50% increase in website traffic, and also notice a 27% increase in store sales, it's a pretty strong correlation, especially if the increases in traffic were prior to the increase in sales.Though temporary increases show a great deal, they don't always tell the whole story.
A good SEO agency will give you the good news, bad news, and everything up front. They will explain what it is they are doing (not necessarily proprietary information), and will always do things the "white hat" way. What that means is, they follow the rules, and do things that help, and avoid doing "tricks of the trade," which help temporarily, but in the long term can get you booted. I have worked with a company that had been booted due to the efforts of their previous Marketing company, and let me tell you, it's not an easy task to come back from. You could see your website traffic drop over 95%, as well as your sales, overnight. So while your SEO agency might think these tricks are great because they make their clients happy, in the long run, you, the business owner loses, and you'll have an uphill battle that could take years to restore your previous rank.
Yes, and in our experience, though often complicated for many viewers, Google Analytics provides some of the best analysis of website rank and SEO results. We have used many over the years, and once Google came along, it was clear the attempt was to give more relevant details. That being said, the most important thing to understand is, there is more to understand than just traffic increases.
If a business has a website that wasn't optimized, it's likely that when a little minor optimization takes place, there will be some increases. That doesn't mean that the SEO company is doing great (they could be), it simply means that things were so bad before, you are now starting to get traffic because you are actually doing some SEO. This is why, like it or not, SEO should be a regular part of any company marketing budget. The main differences between simply optimizing a website, and a good SEO agency has more to do with consistent results, and long term growth.
Google has made recent changes that encourages all users to start sending their website through a secure channel, using SSL (Secure Socket Layers). Currently most websites (including my own), are (or were) unsecured websites. The delay for most of us usually involves the fear that securing our website will reduce page rank, and effectively lower our visibility after years of of optimizing a website for search engines. Since SEO is such a concern, many of us delayed the transition for as long as possible, even if that meant keeping a unsecured website. That doesn't mean the website isn'g secure on the back end, it means, for our visitors, they will get a message that they are not secure for them to submit information. So securing your website is basically helping to protect the general public from hacking attempts.
Since SSL provides a level of security to protect customers from hackers, it obviously should have been a standard years ago, but it wasn't. Google is trying to change all that. It used to be a requirement only for websites with shopping carts, but that has been changing the past year, especially due to the increases in attempts to hack websites. See this video from CNN about this change on Google.
The "http" stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, and Google has been encouraging websites to switch to "https" which adds "Secure" to the end, which means the website tells browsers and users that you have a "secure" website that is safe to send information on. Up until this year, it has only been a suggestion, but Google has been making a push for it lover the past few years, and this year in particular, is the time when sites should be compliant. It's not required, but I recomend doing it.
As of today (March 8th, 2017), our website has been secured by an SSL certificate and includes the "https." In fact, you can't get to our site any other way, as it automatically forces you to go to our secured server.
The pro's for securing your website are better search engine optimization over the long term, and a secure website. Also, as things are changing online, websites that are unsecured will start showing errors, signalling that the customer is not on a secured website, which in term, reduces your rank on Google. Since SEO and page rank is such a big concern for all businesses on the internet at this point, it's obviously something we want to take serious; including the negatives of securing your website.
The con's are temporary, but are not very pleasant. This includes a short term reduction in rank, and requires more extensive SEO just to get where you were prior to the change. Over the long run, your rank will actually improve, but because your website will switch from http://www.yourwebsite.com to https://www.yourwebsite.com, it's actually similar to a change of address on the web. Most people don't know that even the "www" and "non-www" links to your website are considered different addresses also.
In my experience, it does indeed hurt rank, and as of today, having had SSL enabled for the past few days, it has hurt my rank fairly significantly. That being said, knowing what I know, and taking the risk for our website, should demonstrate the importance of taking the leap. If you want to read more about SSL, here is someone at Google explaining more about it.
Make it Active pride's itself on doing well with Search engine optimization and marketing. Most SEO firms do little “tricks of the trade” that can get you found at first, but will eventually lead to removal from many leading search engines. If you are considering any Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Marketing company, make sure to verify what rules they follow. It may seem benficial to jump up quickly for a short term increase, but in the end, your website and your business will suffer.
If you don't believe us, do a search for SEO and read what the actual search engine companies have to say about SEO. They give a pretty accurate description about how the industry works, and how many companies mislead their customers. Read for yourself what to expect from an SEO company, and I'm sure you will learn the differences and want to work with us. We want you to be informed, because the more you know, the more you will discover how valuable our services are.
In 1998, I was consulting for companies. Many asked, and were concerned with the "Y2K bug." On several occasions I was offered additional contracts to make their businss "Y2K ready." I was astonished at the amount of clients concerned over this issue. So, I did my research and discovered the much of the fear was due to scare tactics used by other consultants, some actually setting up businesses specializing in Y2K consulting. I told my clients that it was a waste of money and for them not to worry and provided a list of links and resources to help ease their concerns. I could have taken the easy road to more business, but I'm not in business for the short term. I enjoy the relationships built with long-term clients.
My point about the Y2K nonsense is that Search Engine Optimization and Marketing works in pretty much the same way. Most SEO services are simply spammers and do little or nothing to help their clients. I have worked with several clients who were paying in excess of $1,000, $2,000 or more per month for an SEO company to basically do nothing. I inspected their website code, checked with Google, MSN Live, and Yahoo, and found time and time again that little or nothing was done to increase traffic to their website. In most cases they simply used "keyword spammers" and "directory links" if anything, which does not provide long term success with search engines.
We do not take advantage of our clients. In fact, we provide detailed monthly reports with all of our SEO plans to show the progress we have made. We even tell you, the client, how to "check our work" for yourself so you can make sure we are doing the job you deserve.
We have 6 SEO Packages as listed below:
The main difference between the basic and advanced SEO plan is the amount of time spent researching placement, reviewing site search performance, the number of keywords, and the amount of time spent optimizing the website. Our advanced plan recieves weekly attention to ensure the highest placement available.
A "low price" depends on what you consider to be a low price; this is very subjective. However, I will try to shed some light on the subject.
If by low, you mean something like "$50 per month" or "$500 per year" it's because they are either doing no work and charging you a premium, or they are using methods that will hurt your business. Low prices sound great, but if you factor in the costs of doing business, the hourly rate, etc. it is impossible for any company to do an effective job for "$50 per month."
For the average client, it takes about 1-4 hours per week for proper search engine optimization. This equals to 4-16 hours per month on average. So if they are charging you $50 per month, I promise they are not doing anything, or they don't know what they are doing. So, are their rates really that low, or are they simply a "supply and demand" business; you want the service, they are offering it. That doesn't mean they will perform the service, and since it's difficult to track what is being done, you might never discover you are being ripped off. Do a search for SEO and find out what the search engines have to say on this issue so you can avoid a costly mistake. I am not trying to put down SEO providers, but in my experience, 90% or more do not know what they are doing, and don't really do the work they say they are. As a consultant, I have found this to be true in every case.
That is why we offer Search Engine Optimization at REAL reasonable rates and do honest work. We will sit down and show you the results. We have years experience with real results so when you hire us for SEO, you will know what you are paying for, and will discover the benefits the longer you retain our services. Our goal is long term success, not short term cash flow. The better you do, the better we do. Our lowest plan is $125 per month, and includes 3 hours. Just for clarification, that's under $50 an hour. We spend about 15 minutes on your website, 3 days per week. That is the minimal amount of time needed to effectively perform SEO. Our next plan up, which is $250 for 6 hours, is our best value, and we would recomend it for most of our customers.
Despite the fact that we have an additional 3 plans, even if we CAN charge you the money, we don't if it is unnecessary. For example, if your business is set on paying for our $500 per month plan, and we think you will only need our $250 plan, we will put you on our more inexpensive plan. We would we do that? Because our goal, is to establish long-term relationships. Not buy being cheap, nor by being overly expensive, selling you stuff you don't need. We want to be reasonable, honest, and fair. We know, as you work with us, you will recognize this in our business practices; as our other customers here in New Hampshire have noticed, and as our customers in the west did in the past before we moved to this great state.
So, we are charging real rates, and doing real work. What I can say is, in all cases, every single one, that a customer has trusted us, they have been happy they did. In our