What Should a Seasonal Business Be Doing In The Off-Season?

Seasonal BusinessDo you have a seasonal business?

As a seasonal business owner, your busy summer season is likely winding down. The off-season is the perfect time to evaluate your results. You now have the time to see what worked, what didn’t, and what you could be doing to increase business for the following year.

Did you know that getting started now on improving your online presence can help your business thrive next year? Organic rankings take time, so getting started now will mean your business will be ranked on the first page in Google by next season.

How can you do this? SEO!

What is SEO and why is it important for your business? SEO stands for search engine optimization. When used effectively, it will allow your website to get traffic for free from the search results page on Google. How? When someone types a search into Google, the paid ads appear at the top of the page, followed by the organic results. You want your business to appear as high as possible in the organic results so you can get more page views and ultimately more conversions from your target market.

Take advantage of the “off-season”

If you’re ramping up your SEO right when your business is starting to get busy again, you’re already too late. You will want your website to be SEO optimized months before you know people will be searching for your business,product, and/or service. Even if you’re business is currently closed, SEO is ongoing. A prominent organic search presence is an effective driver for your business.

Getting started with SEO

Here are the top ways to improve the SEO of your website.

  • Start with good content
  • Use keywords
  • Include linkable content
  • Tag your titles
  • Work on your page URL’s
  • Link to other websites
  • Create a sitemap

SEO mistakes to avoid

Here are some SEO mistakes to avoid. They will decrease your search results ranking.

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Broken links
  • Copied content
  • Not optimizing for mobile
  • Using flash

If this sounds like something you would rather leave up to the professionals, work with a trusted SEO partner to ensure you don’t miss out on valuable search engine results page positioning next season. Get in touch with Longevity Graphics and start improving your online marketing strategy now!

10797544894_c14c97cb1dAre you thinking about starting a business in Port Coquitlam? We’ve gathered some resources to help you get started.

Visit the City of Port Coquitlam Website

The City of Port Coquitlam  website is a great place to begin when thinking about starting a business in Port Coquitlam. The website has many resources that will help you, prior to ‘opening your doors’.  Click here to visit the City of Port Coquitlam’s Starting a Business page.

Get to know the area… and your competition

If you don’t already live in Port Coquitlam or the Tri-Cities area, it is a good idea to spend some time in the city. This will allow you to get a sense of the successful businesses that are currently operating in the area – including businesses that you will be in competition with. If your business is going to have a store front, you can use this time to search out potential areas for your business to operate.

Create a Website and Social Media Pages

If you’re thinking about starting a business in 2016 – you MUST have a website and social media pages. There is a vast amount of competing businesses in Port Coquitlam and the surrounding areas.

In order to be discovered by potential customers online, you must have an experienced, knowledgeable online marketing company who will be able to optimize your website and social media pages for optimal rankings.

Your online marketing company should be able to:

  • Help your website gain top position in search result lists
  • Perform keyword research to discover vital search combinations for your business
  • Perform meta and title tag development
  • Establish HTML code optimization
  • Perform inbound link building

If this sounds like something that you will need help with, contact Longevity Graphics for a FREE 1-Hour Consultation. We specialize in working with local clients and helping them rank for their industry specific keywords.

Are you considering outsourcing your website design?

Below are some Pro’s and Con’s of hiring a local web designer vs. outsourcing your web design.

Pro’s of hiring a local web designer:

  • Personalized, one-on-one service
  • It’s easy to get in contact with your web designer if you have any questions
  • You know exactly who will be working on the design of your website and social media pages

Con’s of hiring a local web designer:

  • Well, we sure can’t think of any con’s!

Additional Resources

  • Sign up your business on the Shop PoCo BIZ Directory; Click Here
  • Join the Port Coquitlam Business Improvement Association (BIA); Click Here
  • Join the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce; Click Here
  • Contact Longevity Graphics for a FREE 1-Hour Consultation to learn about the online marketing services they offer; Click Here

 What is SEO?

Clients who have not done SEO before often have no idea what the term means or what the acronym even stands for. In this post, I will explain what SEO is and why it’s important for any business or organization online.

SEO (search engine optimization) is the optimization of your website with the goal of ranking higher in search engines such as Google and Bing. Your site’s placement in the search engine results is called its natural or organic rank and it is free. This is in contrast to PPC (SEM), which is a sponsored ad. There are two main methods of improving your site’s rank in search engine results: on-page optimization and off-page factors such as inbound links.

On-page optimization

When an SEO professional talks about on-page optimization, they mean that each page is easy for the search engines to crawl (meaning the site loads quickly and does not have an excess of needless code) and that each page is clearly indicating to the search engines what it is about and what terms it should rank for. On-page optimization involves doing extensive research to determine what phrases each page should attempt to rank for and then ensuring that every ranking factor within each page is optimized to support the chosen keyword phrases.

The most important factor for optimizing a page is its content. Every page should have a good amount of unique, quality content that is relevant and useful to the visitors of your site. Everything else that is done for SEO in the back-end (coding) is intended to support the content by sending the search engines the right signals. Search engines ‘listen’ to certain bits of code for hints about the subject matter of a page and SEO is done to make it clearer that the content is talking about a certain topic.

Off-page optimization

Off-page optimization is usually much more difficult than on-page, but it is crucial for any site trying to rank in a competitive market. Incoming links from other sites are the focus of off-page optimization, as search engines see links from other sites as votes of confidence. Having links from credible and relevant sites to your own website can boost your site’s reputation and increase its ranking within the search engines.

Link building has become a potentially dangerous endeavour due to several recent updates from Google, however. It’s very important to be discriminating about which sites you seek links from. Quantity is not better than quality; in fact a large amount of poor-quality links can result in a penalty to your site’s ranking. The best way to build links is to provide high-quality content on your site that visitors will naturally want to share with others. There are strategies that go beyond this, but that’s for another blog post!

Why You Need SEO

The main advantage of SEO is that it has long-term results and your natural ranking in the search engines is free. If you have an existing website that is ranking but not as high as you would like, improving your SEO is the only way to get yourself on the first page of search results. If you have the time to devote to creating great content for your site, SEO can be relatively inexpensive for you.

Basic SEO is straight-forward and can probably be done by any moderately tech-savvy individual once they’ve been educated on the ranking factors. However, basic SEO is not going to help you compete with the companies on the first page of the search results that have hired professionals to do SEO for them. The more competitive your industry is, the more difficult it will be to outrank your competitors. If you want to compete, you will need to use advanced SEO strategies such as the ones we use to help our clients outrank their competition.

If you do not have the time to invest in learning SEO, keeping up to date, or doing the actual implementation on your website, we offer a variety of SEO packages for businesses of all sizes. We also offer SEO consulting to businesses that want to bring their SEO in-house but are inexperienced and do not know how to get the most from SEO.

If you work in web design or web development, then you probably can’t help but snarl when saying “Internet Explorer”. You might also share our aversion to any IE-related applications such as Microsoft/Yahoo’s Bing search engine. We have largely ignored Bing in favour of Google, but we keep our minds open to anything that might affect SEO.

Just this month, Bing has released the ‘Phoenix’ update for its Webmaster Tools. The interface has been overhauled and optimised for usability. At first glance, it is definitely reminiscent of Google Analytics, but Bing’s interface is more straightforward. Data is much easier to access with fewer clicks required to get more in-depth information.

New (beta) features include the Link Explorer, which allows you to view the backlinks of any domain, and the SEO Analyzer/SEO Reports, which can perform an analysis of the on-page SEO of any page from one of your verified domains. The Link Explorer allows the checking of backlinks to a URL, with an option to check backlinks to any page on a domain.

The Bing Webmaster Tools also include a tool for doing keyword research with organic search results (results that exclude data from adCenter), as well as a built-in markup validator with results that display the page you validated as it appears in the browser with convenient annotations that contain deeper information you can access simply by hovering over certain data.

While these tools exist elsewhere on the internet – and many of them are available in Google Adwords or Google Analytics – it is very handy to have such tools integrated to an SEO suite. As a package, it’s very attractive. It was attractive enough for me to test it out with our site. Initially, because of a bug, I wasn’t able to view any data. At the time of posting this, however, the bug seems to be fixed and I can really see the value of using Bing Webmaster Tools.

The value of Bing-specific data.

Google dominates search; there’s no doubt about that. However, Internet Explorer is the default browser on any new computer running Windows. Since IE has integrated Bing as its search engine, Bing has a large automatic user-base made up of people who either don’t know the difference between – or don’t know how to change – browsers. However, Bing is nowhere close to Google in terms of their users.

Google has about 60-70% of the market share while Bing has roughly 20-30%. Is it worth doing two sets of keyword research when the keyword research I can do through Google is relevant to 60-70% of searchers rather than the 20-30% using Bing? If keyword research results from Bing are different from Google’s, should I simply ignore the data altogether?

The question on my mind is how relevant the data I’m getting from Bing really is. How similar Bing and Google were regarding how they rank and index pages? I found a great article on SEO moz detailing the commonalities between Google and Bing. To summarize their findings, Google and Bing are quite similar, with the two becoming increasingly more similar as time goes on (more likely a case of Bing become more like Google than the other way around).

I take the findings as confirmation that it’s not a waste of time to play with Bing’s Webmaster Tools, which makes me happy because I really like the simplicity of its interface and the depth of the data it provides. I wonder if we’ll see some changes from Google Analytics and Google Adwords in an attempt to provide a similar application that merges the two. Exciting!

Have you noticed your site’s rankings drop considerably in the last few weeks? It might have been a result of Google’s latest search engine update, Penguin.

Launched on April 24th, Google Penguin is entirely about promoting white-hat practices and upholding the standards of Google’s quality guidelines, and has little to do with directly improving search results. The Penguin update has been specifically designed to penalize and de-rank sites that have boosted ranking through grey-hat means. What is grey-hat, you ask?

Simply speaking, grey-hat techniques are any SEO techniques that are intended to boost ranking for a site without regard for user experience. These techniques include keyword stuffing and link schemes, which have been all too common in the past. If you’ve had your site’s ranking fall drastically as a result of Penguin, chances are high that you or your SEO person used one of these techniques.

According to Matt Cutts, the Penguin update is intended to reward those sites that have made use of white-hat SEO techniques. White-hat SEO is complicit with Google’s quality guidelines and includes doing things such as making sites load faster, writing informative and unique content, and improving usability. These are judged to be white-hat because they benefit the user as well as the search engines; they focus on building the quality of the site rather than on boosting its rankings.

The bottom line is, grey-hat techniques will not get you results as they once did – they will, in fact, be harmful to your rankings if implemented. Thankfully, there are SEO specialists like Longevity Graphics who hold fast to Google’s quality guidelines and pay close attention to what works and what doesn’t. The Penguin update is about promoting quality on the web, and that’s something we have always believed in.