By Christy McNee at

The Difference Between SEO and SEM

What is the Key Distinction Between SEO and SEM?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has traditionally been thought of as a component of the umbrella term, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), encompassing both paid and organic tactics. Today, SEM is used to refer exclusively to paid search.  Search Engine Marketing is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines, while Search Engine Optimization is defined as the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural search results on search engines.

So, rather than viewing SEM as an umbrella term encompassing SEO, it’s more accurate to view SEM (paid search) and SEO (organic search) as separate entities in your Search Marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The industry and discipline of SEO is continually evolving to keep up with Google's ever-changing algorithms, but one thing is constant: SEO is made up of on-page and off-page (aka "on-site" and "off-site") activities as its two main pillars.

On-page SEO consists of:

  • Optimized meta data, including the page title tag, meta description, heading tags, and image ALT tag, which incorporate target keywords
  • Well-written and optimized page copy that incorporate target keywords
  • Simple and well-formatted page URLs with selective keywords
  • Optimized page speed
  • Social sharing integration within your content

Off-page SEO consists of:

  • Link building to attract and obtain quality inbound links (aka "backlinks")
    • This makes up the majority of off-page SEO
  • Social signals (e.g., increasing traffic to a website from social media sharing)
  • Attracting attention from social bookmarking sites like Reddit, Digg and Stumbleupon

A large part of SEO is creating valuable, high-quality content (e.g., blog articles and web page copy) that your target audience will find helpful. Over time, this results in increased organic traffic to your website, more opportunities for inbound links and, most importantly, more conversions.

Be sure to pay attention to these on-page and off-page tactics to ensure your landing pages, web copy and blog articles are optimized for search.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM strictly involves earning search visibility through paid advertisements on search engines like Google, Instagram Facebook and Bing. While these advertisements are commonly referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, there’s a slew of additional terms used for paid search or SEM activities—cost-per-click (CPC) ads, paid search ads and paid search advertising.

PPC advertising allows you to target potential buyers through relevant ad copy and keywords that match their search queries. These ads show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) next to organic listings, which gives your company the opportunity to increase the visibility of its web pages, landing pages, blog articles and more.

What Are Some Examples of SEM Activities?

Google AdWords is far and away the most popular platform for hosting ads, but there are some key activities needed for successful SEM on the platform, such as:

  • Launching ad campaigns with a specific audience (e.g., geographic) in mind
  • Creating ad groups that consist of target keyword variations
  • Writing relevant ad copy using these selective keywords
  • Setting an ad budget
  • Monitoring metrics like clicks, impressions, click through rates and average cost-per-click

So, Which is Better? Strict SEO or SEM?

Advocates on either side could argue one is more effective than the other, but I like to view high-quality SEO as a prerequisite for high-quality SEM. SEO lays the foundation for SEM through well-optimized content that prospects and customers find helpful. Without landing pages, web pages and blog content optimized for search, your SEM efforts will fall flat due to poor quality, and visibility in the SERPs will be extremely difficult. Organic SEO is also less costly long-term as you establish search credibility, as long as you maintain it with the consistent creation of quality content and social media usage.

 

By Christy McNee at

Is Your Smart TV Spying On You?

Vizio Smart TV owners who haven't heard that the internet-connected televisions had been spying on them may find out about it directly from their Smart TV itself.  

The secret "feature" was exposed in November 2015, when journalistic watchdog ProPublica revealed that Vizio TVs track viewing habits and share them with advertisers. 

Vizio’s technology works by analyzing snippets of the shows you’re watching, whether on traditional television or streaming Internet services such as Netflix. Vizio determines the date, time, channel of programs — as well as whether you watched them live or recorded. The viewing patterns are then connected your IP address - the Internet address that can be used to identify every device in a home, from your TV to a phone.

Following the report, several class action lawsuits ensued which were consolidated. The company argued in court that it was innocent and only recorded customers anonymously, however a California Federal Judge disagreed, once in March and once in July, in a class action lawsuit against the company. 

Vizio insisted that it was only collecting and sharing nonpersonal information such as IP addresses and zip codes, but the plaintiffs had researchers coming forward to say that it was easy to figure out who was watching what. 

Last Wednesday, attorneys in the class action suit asked the same judge to extend the deadline for a preliminary settlement - originally scheduled to be publicly detailed on September 12, so that they can notify owners through their TVs. 

According to a court filing, "The Parties are developing a class notice program with direct notification to the class through VIZIO Smart TV displays, which requires testing to make sure any TV notice can be properly displayed and functions as intended. The additional time requested will allow the parties to confirm that the notice program proposed in the motion for preliminary approval is workable and satisfies applicable legal standards." 

Attorneys leading the class action say they wish to detail the terms of the settlement by October 3. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also investigated the company, settling with Vizio for just $2.2 million - a slap on the wrist. 

 

source:  zero hedge

 

 

By Christy McNee at

McNee Solutions can improve your local ranking on Google

Local results pop-up when people search for businesses and places near their location. These places can be shown in mutiple places across Search and Maps.  If you were to search "Gluten Free Bakery" from your mobile device you would get local search results. Google tries to show you what you are searching for nearby that you’d like to visit. In the image below, Google uses local results to suggest some options.

local search 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t find your business? We can help you!

You may find that your business doesn’t appear for relevant searches in your area. To maximize how often your customers see your business in local search results you must make sure that you provide and update business information in Google My Business.  This can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps.

Enter complete data

Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches. We make sure that all of your business information is in Google My Business, so customers know more about what you do, where you are, and when they can visit you. We make sure that information is provided like (but not limited to) your physical address, phone number, category, and attributes. We also constantly monitor your this information and update as your business changes. 

Verify location(s)

We make sure that your Business is listed and your location is verified.  Verifying your business locations give them the best opportunity to appear for users across Google products, like Maps and Search. 

Make hours accurate

We ensure that your hours are accurate. These include: regular working hours, holidays and special events that let's potential customers know that you will be open when they arrive.

 

Add photos

Adding photos to your listings shows people your goods and services, and we help you tell the story of your business. Accurate and appealing pictures also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for.

How Google determines local ranking

Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that's farther away from your location is more likely to have what you're looking for than a business that's closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.

Relevance

Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.

Distance

Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.

Prominence

Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.

Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.

Let McNee Solutions help you improve your local ranking on Google!

By Christy McNee at

Are You Utilizing the Social Media Universe?

Our award winning SEO system will help you to leverage both web and social media to grow your business.  Real SEO! We actively manage all our SEO clients and are constantly updating and changing your site so that it gets you the best results. We don't use short term tactics that only get your site short and unsustainable boosts.  Make sure to check out how we can improve your SEO today.

 

 

By Christy McNee at

Are You Utilizing the Social Media Universe?

Our award winning SEO system will help you to leverage both web and social media to grow your business.  Real SEO! We actively manage all our SEO clients and are constantly updating and changing your site so that it gets you the best results. We don't use short term tactics that only get your site short and unsustainable boosts.  Make sure to check out how we can improve your SEO today.

 

 

By Christy McNee at

Web Designer of the Year

We did it again!

2018 Lexington Web Designer of the year! Looks great next to our 2017 Trophy

McNee Solutions, LLC has been selected for the 2018 Best of Lexington Award in the Website Designer category by the Lexington Award Program.

 

Shouldn't you be using us?

 

If you are - THANK YOU!

By Christy McNee at

Her Name Is Alexa, She's Changing How Your Clients Do Business

For baby boomers who grew up watching Captain Kirk talk to the Enterprise’s computer on Star Trek, the advent of voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant can seem like science fiction come to life. However, for digital-native millennials, voice assistants are no big deal — just the next logical step in building the automated and responsive world in which they expect to live.

An estimated 22 million Amazon Echo devices sold in 2017 (on top of 11 million in 2016 and a couple million more in its first year on the market in 2015). The Verge estimated that there were one billion Apple devices in use as of early 2016 (though only devices released since October 2011 include the Siri voice assistant), and the Apple HomePod virtual assistant device will be available in February of this year. Google Assistant, which runs on the Google Home device (competing with the Echo) as well as Android phones and other devices, launched in May 2016.

Today, these voice assistants can do more than play music, share the weather forecast or tell you a joke. Increasingly, Alexa (the voice and persona of Amazon’s Echo) and her kin will help your customers with their shopping.

Shopping By Voice Assistant: Removing The Friction To Buy

Amazon understands something fundamental about all of us: We are lazy. The easier it is to click the “buy” button, the more Amazon will sell. To this end, Amazon has given us Amazon Prime, one-click shopping and the Dash button to allow us to purchase without thinking too hard.

Alexa makes it even easier.

Amazon Prime customers ask Alexa to place an order. Alexa searches through their order history and places the order. Siri and Google Assistant are playing catchup to offer their own purchasing capabilities. Soon, our smartphones and virtual assistants will be able to fill our desires with almost no friction — as long as we desire the products our voice assistant can access.

Alexa, Please Bring Customers To My Store

It’s still the early days for voice assistants, but the adoption rate for home devices is increasing on a steep curve, and voice assistants are finding their way into more and more parts of our lives (Toyota recently announced that it will connect Alexa to some of its models).

If your business name isn’t Amazon, Costco or Walgreens, you may feel shut out of this trend. There are, however, steps you can take to give your customers the opportunity to order from your e-commerce store by voice command.

Because the world of each voice assistant is a closed system, you’ll need to get your business inside that system. If you aren’t already selling on the Amazon Marketplace, you might want to list some of your products there. To have a chance of getting on Alexa’s nice list, you’ll have to use Fulfillment by Amazon so your products are eligible for Prime shipping. Among many other factors, products with Prime shipping can get the Amazon Choice designation.

Google Shopping allows online and brick-and-mortar retailers to list their available inventory, so Google can direct customers to shops where the items they want are in stock. At the moment, this service doesn’t link with Google Home, which currently fills orders only for household staples from Google Express retailers.

Even if your customers can’t buy from you directly through a virtual assistant, you might want to move some of your ad buy to the voice assistant ecosystem so you maintain a brand presence where the cool kids hang out.

From now on, it’s Alexa’s world. We just live in it.

 

By Christy McNee at

Welcome Leah Bridges

Leah is highly ambitious with a strong background in sales and advertising. She has direct experience in Media Relations, Digital Marketing and Social Media. She has a proven track record for helping any size business grow and making their online presence larger and more efficient. She is very driven, motivated and completes each project with creativity, integrity and enthusiasm.  We are thrilled that she has joined the McNee Solutions team.

By Christy McNee at

California Supreme Court rules, Yelp can't be forced to remove negative posts

Online review site Yelp.com cannot be ordered to remove posts against a San Francisco law firm that a judge determined were defamatory, a divided California Supreme Court ruled Monday in a closely watched case that internet companies had warned could be used to silence online speech.

Justices agreed in a 4-3 opinion, saying removal orders such as the one attorney Dawn Hassell obtained against Yelp "could interfere with and undermine the viability of an online platform."

The decision overturned a lower court ruling that Yelp had said could lead to the removal of negative reviews from the popular website and leave consumers with a skewed assessment of restaurants and other businesses.

Hassell said Yelp was exaggerating the stakes of her legal effort.

Her attorney, Monique Olivier, said in a statement that the ruling "stands as an invitation to spread falsehoods on the internet without consequence."

She said her client was considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hassell's 2013 lawsuit accused a client she briefly represented in a personal injury case of defaming her on Yelp by falsely claiming that her firm failed to communicate with the client, among other things.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Donald Sullivan found the online statements defamatory and ordered the client and Yelp to remove them. Hassell said the client failed to answer her lawsuit or remove the posts, so she had to seek a court order demanding that Yelp do it.

A second judge and a state appeals court upheld Sullivan's order.

"Ms. Hassell did exactly what she should have done," Olivier said Monday. "After both the defamer and Yelp refused to remove untrue and damaging statements, she obtained a judgment against the defamer, and sought to enforce that judgment by requiring Yelp to remove the defamation."

Yelp said the lower court ruling would give businesses unhappy about negative reviews a new legal pathway for getting them removed.

Aaron Schur, a deputy general counsel for Yelp, wrote in a blog statement that Monday's decision assures online publishers in California that they "cannot be lawfully forced to remove third-party speech through enterprising abuses of the legal system."

Internet giants Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft said in a letter to the California Supreme Court that the lower court ruling "radically departs from a large, unanimous and settled body of federal and state court precedent" and could be used to "silence a vast quantity of protected and important speech."

Three of the California Supreme Court justices agreed with Yelp that the removal order violated a 1996 federal law that courts have widely interpreted as prohibiting internet companies from being treated as the speaker or publisher of users' posts.

"In substance, Yelp is being held to account for nothing more than its ongoing decision to publish the challenged reviews," Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in an opinion joined by associate justices Ming Chin and Carol Corrigan.

Associate Justice Leondra Kruger agreed that the removal order against Yelp was invalid, but for a different reason.

In a dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar said nothing in the 1996 federal law allows Yelp to "ignore a properly issued court order meant to stop the spread of defamatory or otherwise harmful information on the internet."

"Even — indeed, perhaps especially — in a society that values free expression, people expect courts and statutes to offer them minimal protections from disparaging misrepresentations or abject lies deliberately circulated to the public," he wrote.

The dissent raises important questions about how to govern the internet, said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law.

Still, Goldman said the court of appeal ruling upholding the removal order against Yelp was an "outlier" and would have led to "open season on internet companies."

 

source:  NBC News

By Christy McNee at

What Your LinkedIn Profile Says About You

These days, first impressions are delivered through Google search results, not in a face-to-face meeting. So getting your brand to gleam brilliantly in bits and bytes is essential because we all know how important first impressions are. Thanks to the popularity of LinkedIn, your profile will likely show up in one of the top spots in Google search results. So, by default, like it or not, your LinkedIn profile is often going to be your first impression. That means it is essential that you invest time and energy to make your profile complete, authentic, differentiated, and compelling. If it’s anything less than that, you’re inadvertently sending a message of mediocrity to those who check you out. Here’s what they’re thinking – along with easy fixes to let your spectacular self shine through.

You’re hiding something.

If you don’t have a photo, you’re immediately suspect. “What’s she hiding?” The same is true if you use your company logo or another image that’s not you where a headshot would normally appear. The web is a weird, nebulous place. Content is suspect. Showing your face and letting people look in your eyes will make your words more believable and will give viewers a window for connecting on a deeper, more emotional level.

LinkedIn profile

You’re lazy.

If you left the summary blank, you’re missing out on a key opportunity to tell people not only what you do but who you are. And it whispers “lazy.” Your LinkedIn summary will likely be the most-read version of your bio – so spend time making those 2,000 characters tell your story in an authentic and compelling way.

You’re a commodity.

If you don’t craft your own headline, LinkedIn uses your current job title as your headline. That’s boring, and it puts you in a commodity category, preventing you from showing what sets you apart from everyone else who does what you do. Use your headline like the headline of an ad. Its job is to capture the attention of decision makers and entice them to want to learn more.

You’re outdated.

One of the best features of LinkedIn is the opportunity to follow Influencers, publications, and topics. If you don’t belong to any groups and have left the “Follow” category blank, it gives the impression that you’re not up to speed. If you’re only using LinkedIn as your digital resume, overlooking the full powerful of LinkedIn for keeping the saw sharp, you’re not only losing out on the site’s most important features, but you’re also telling people you aren’t interested in what’s happening in your field.

You’re not connected.

Having 500+ connections says you have built a large network. Having 499 connections or fewer says you’re not a player yet. Strive to get to 500 connections. That number shows up prominently when someone is checking out your profile.

You're a jack of all trades.

Your endorsements should match what you do. Let’s face it; we all think the LinkedIn endorsements feature is silly. We are often endorsed for things we have no business being endorsed for and receive endorsements for skills from people who have no idea if we actually possess those skills. You need to keep your endorsements pure. They should show people the skills you’re best at, showcasing the ones that will help you land your next role.

You’re paranoid.

If you're not willing to show people your connections, you’re saying that you’re afraid people will poach them. The spirit of LinkedIn is to be open and generous with networking.

You’re distant.

When you write your summary in the third person, you’re missing out on connecting fully with the reader. Using first-person pronouns is almost like having a conversation with your audience. Third person puts up a barrier between you and decision makers.

People don’t value you.

If you don’t have recommendations, your profile is just you talking about you. Recommendations give you a way to validate what you say about yourself with input from others. Request recommendations from people who have witnessed your work, especially if they are known in your industry or have impressive titles and work for respected brands.

source:  Forbes

By Christy McNee at

Why Is Instagram Good For Business?

What Is Instagram?

Instagram is a social networking app made for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. It behaves similar to Facebook or Twitter in that everyone who creates an account has a profile and a news feed.

When you post either a photo or video on Instagram, it will be displayed on your “wall”.

Other users who follow you will see your posts in their own feed. Likewise, you’ll see posts from other users who you choose to follow.

With more than a hundred million of Instagram users actively posting forty million pictures within a day, imagine the number of people that you can reach to promote your business. With this big of audience, Instagram could be a great way for your business to reach your customers.

Now that you know the basics of what Instagram is, let's delve into why Instagram is GREAT for your Business.

1. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Instagram is primarily a photo social media platform. Users mostly share photos.

That means users see a lot of photos from people they follow. So how could your photo rise above from anyone else? That’s where your creativity can come into place: you need to have your photos and images stand out and look better than others.

With more interesting photos, people will be more likely to visit your profile and get more interested in the products your business offers.

Always remember, a good photo will create potential customers. Instagram is a great way to build a business brand just by sharing good quality photos and videos. It helps you to get connected with a number of potential clients very easily.

2. Fastest Growing Social Network

Facebook growth has plateaued. Instead Instagram is currently growing faster than any other social network.

As a business owner, it’s always important to stay ahead of the curve and to quickly adapt to changes in consumer trends. When it comes to consumer trends in social media, Instagram is the hottest thing going right now.

3. Instagram Encourages Customer Participation

Customer participation in Instagram is one of the strategies that businesses use to enhance the organizational relationship with its target audience. This involves both existing and potential new customers. This is a strategy that mainly includes a free exchange of opinions and experiences… for examples customers take a selfie with the product brand and post it. A business can run photo contest increase customer participation.

Through this, your followers’ followers will be able to notice your brand, thus increasing your brand exposure. This has been proven as an effective tool for increasing sales.

4. Create Personality

Photo and video posts tend to do a better job of reaching users emotions than simple text posts. When you tap into users emotions, they’re more likely to remember your brand in the future.

Instagram is an ideal place to create a personality and a feel for your brand regardless of what product or service you’re offering and what audience you’re trying to reach. Instagram is the perfect place to create and/or reiterate what your brand stands for and why people should care about it.

5. Build Trust

Through the photos you post on Instagram, your followers will be able to know more about your business brand. This helps build trust in the products you are marketing online. People need evidence. They believe in the things that they see. If they see how reliable your product is then you will eventually gain their trust.

6. Geotagging

The ability to geotag posts on Instagram allows local businesses for marketing to local audiences on a large scale. So when you upload a photo or video to Instagram, you can tag the location where the photo or video was taken. By doing this, nearby users can discover your content and business location, even if they don’t already follow your organization on Instagram.

Instagram lets users view posts based on the on the tagged location of the post. A user may then begin to view all uploads that are tagged as being in the town or city that your business is located in. In the feed of photos and videos that they see, the photos that you uploaded from your business will be visible. The user then sees your product and physical location, which will lead up to visiting your business and/or following you on Instagram.

Contributing:  Mike Marko

 

By Christy McNee at

Can Customers Find You?

Real SEO! At McNee Solutions, we actively manage all our SEO clients and are constantly updating and changing your site so that it gets you the best results. We don't use short term tacticts that only get your site short and unsustainable boosts.  SEO is vital to your Business and we want to help make that process easy for you.  We have a great platform that let's us know how your listing is performing across all Search.  It is crucial that your listing appear the same across different sites and social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Bing, Foursquare, and HotFrog.  Not only will you be confusing your potential customers, but this mis-information will actually hurt your search rankings.   

We want to make sure that your company is Found! 

Of course, being found is only a small part of SEO.  We also make sure that you have content on your site and social platforms once a week as well as determining what is right with your site and what needs fixing so that it performs better in search results.  We continuously monitor all of your demographics and analytics of your site's traffic as well as make sure that your site is listed and verified with over a 100 search directories.  

Make sure that you are doing EVERYTHING to optimize your site and your Business.

 

 

By Christy McNee at

Are You Optimizing Your Images?

1. Give Your Images Alt Text (Alternative Text)

If you upload a picture of coffee cups to your blog, it’s clear to you and your readers that the image is of coffee cups.

However, search engines can’t actually see your images, so they use your alternative text (alt text) to determine what the image is.

To edit your images alt text, in your media library (Media > Library), click on your image, and place a short description of the image in the “alt text” box.

Alt Text Explanation

2. Give Your Images a Title

Never keep the images default title (such as IMG_1111) when uploading images to your blog.

When saving your image to your computer, give it a descriptive file name.

For example, if saving an image of two cups of coffee, you can name the image “cup of coffee with friends.”

To name your image title in WordPress, go to your media library (Media > Library), click on the image, and insert your title in the title box.

Alt Text ExplanationYou can also edit your title and alt text within your post by going in to edit the post and clicking on the image you want to name. Next, click on the pencil button and simply edit your title and alt text.

Bonus Tip

Your blogs load time also contributes to your SEO ranking. Keep your blog speed up by re-sizing your images (don’t upload images at their full size) before uploading them to your blog.

You also want to make sure that you are using images that you have the right to use.  My favorite site for Beautiful Free photos is Unsplash

By Christy McNee at

Important Technical Announcement

Technical AnnouncementWe pride ourselves in making sure that our clients have the best service.  We will be doing a routine maintenance and systems upgrade on our email server(s) tonight 4/25/2018.  This will cause an interruption in our client's email services for up to an hour. 

Thank you for your patience.

About This Blog

This blog is a place to read about the latest news and activity going on at McNee Solutions