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Digital Marketing Basics - Your 4 StepGuide to Online Success

Many small & mid sized companies are often surprised to hear that paying for targeted web traffic is a must-do. But, it is true! Any US metropolitan location it’s essential that you invest in a paid traffic strategy for your online business. Without it, your competition might be leaving you in the dust, when it comes to conversions.


Putting dollars behind traffic can be the number-one gamechanger between you and your competitors. 


Let’s take a look at what you can do to ensure you’re putting money where it will work the hardest for you and your online business.

1.) Make sure your site can support a traffic boost

First thing’s first: Is your existing website up-to-par, and ready to support a traffic boost?


Answering this important question can be difficult to tackle on your own. Assessing if your site is working smoothly and efficiently on a surface level, and behind the scenes, is an in-depth process. Hiring an agency to run an audit of your site is a sure-fire way to check the health of your existing website, identify problems, and administer fixes.


The Branding Agency likes to use SEMRush, a software service that offers online visibility and marketing analytics software subscriptions. This powerful SEO tool and a browser extension can provide important data about your site (including a close look at your traffic, keyword help, lead generation, and more). 


When you enlist our help, we’ll get you onboarded with SEMRush and manage the comprehensive analysis of your site. With SEMRush’s help, we’ll scan for hundreds of both technical and SEO mistakes—and get important online updates live for you, ASAP. 


2.) Get local citation services in place

Even if you have a physical storefront or office for your business and an online presence, you still may not be reaching all your potential clients. An important piece that you could be missing is location citation services for your business. 


Location services ensure that your business name and address are mentioned online (even if there’s no link to your site in those mentions). Good examples of local citations can be found on chamber of commerce pages, online white pages, and so on. 


This type of citation is an important component that search engines like Google and Bing take into consideration when ranking your site against your competitors. Without those citations, your site is missing out on important ranking opportunities. And, if search engines aren’t ranking your business high enough, customers aren’t going to find you online. Which is bad for your business.

3.) Partner with a pro for paid search

If you’ve not done so already, launching a paid search engine advertising or pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign is a great way to boost your online business.

But, launching a paid search campaign can be a complex endeavor and one that we wouldn’t recommend doing on your own. Instead, working with a credentialed agency (one with good Google relationships). The Branding Agency can help you tackle keyword research, bid on keywords (we usually start with 500-1,000 keywords, and hone down from there), and update your geolocation, too.


Running a campaign for three months or so can build a valuable database from which you can map out a solid keyword strategy for your site—and good keyword data can quickly translate into great profits!


4.) Optimize your SEO

By partnering a PPC campaign with organic, well-crafted search engine optimization, you can build a double whammy with which to get ahead of your competition. 


You have an optimization opportunity to appear in not just one, but multiple Google search results. Once in the paid search section and once in the organic search results.


Plus, you can also win a third placement: In the map pack section. And, if you are able to boost your location citations, you’ll have mastered all possible SEO hot spots.


That’s a win-win-win that we can help you achieve!


Ready to get started?
Contact us HERE to learn more about how we can help you improve your website performance and achieve online success.


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Website Maintenance: The Importance of Keeping Your Site Secure

You may have the best site, with great SEO optimization, stellar content, and innovative design. But, if you’ve not updated your site security, hackers, Google penalties and fees, and more can negatively impact your web presence and your business’ success.

From out-of-date plugins, to poor passwords, to weaknesses in server security—once someone finds a crack in your site, they have the power to sneak in and take control. Through gaps, hackers can insert harmful SEO spam, malware, viruses, spyware, and worse.

All of these issues can leave your site exposed and vulnerable to legal action from visitors to your site, and may put you on a permanent search engine black list, or cause you to lose important and sensitive data.

That is why it’s so important to ensure your site is adhering to the latest security protocols. There are a few basics you can take care of, to keep your site safe and protected. But ultimately, investing in professional security and protections is your best bet to keep your business online and running smoothly.

Here are a few answers to common questions we hear from clients—and important things you should know about the impacts a security breach, hacking, or spam attack can have on your website and business.

Why are hackers and spammers out to get me, and what are they looking for?

Don’t take it personally! Cyber predators aren’t targeting your website, they’re instead looking at your content management system (CMS) WordPress plugins and hoping to find cracks in your security. One of the most popular CMSes in the world today, WordPress is a prime target for hackers looking to boost their own SEO or to make extra money off your business’ site. 

A sure-fire sign that your Wordpress site has a security breach can be the appearance of strange or random ad links. If a hacker gets through one of your security holes, they’ll be able to attach ad links to your site—and get paid, if your site visitors click on those links. 

What happens if I don’t maintain site security?

Unfortunately, if you don’t invest time, expertise, and a little bit of cash into maintaining your site’s security, you are setting yourself up for some very expensive consequences.

Worse case scenario: Google may issue your site with a manual penalty, which can take you off Google Search for 30 days or more. And, that means anyone looking at search keywords tied to your business and services will NOT see you. Your site will essentially become invisible to anyone who doesn’t have your webpages already bookmarked.

When a penalty is issued, Google stops sending organic traffic to your site. If you’ve been hit by a hacker or SEO spam, you’ll notice in your Google analytic reports that your traffic will have dramatically dropped. A devastating hit to your traffic can occur in just a manner of hours, but the damage can be long lasting.

What happens if I do get hacked or penalized?

Managing a penalty or hacking, and getting your site back online is complicated. You’ll need to identify security breaches and figure out exactly how the hacker got into your site, fix the security issues, and then get to work on having your site--and all your fixed pages—re-evaluated under Google review. The review process alone can take weeks, and if fixes aren’t evaluated to successfully in place, you’ll need to start the full process all over again.

In addition to penalties, hackers can cause additional damage to your site, including: 

  • Site warning alerts and blockages. You or a site visitor may see a Google warning alert, when trying to reach your site through Chrome. A message reporting “Phishing attack ahead” or “This site contains malware” may pop up, when you type in your site’s URL.

  • Website terminator or temporary removal. Your website is taken offline by your hosting service. If your site is attacked, your posting provider will receive security warnings or notifications from site visitors, initiating security tools to kick into gear and take your site offline.

  • Performance issues. When your site has been hacked, or is carrying malware, speed and responsiveness can be negatively impacted and greatly slow down performance.

  • Wordpress email functionality cessation. If you have WordPress email tied to your site, spam and malware can also impact your ability to send and receive emails. (When your site server is hacked, your email can also be affected, too.)

Unfortunately, finding a pro to help you shed Google manual penalties and get your site back online can cost big bucks. Negative user experience, like the issues cited above, can be the death bell for your site. Visitors who are exposed to warning alerts, pop-up ads, slow pages, and other negative experience issues when trying to reach or maneuver through your site, are less likely to try and visit you again in the future. 

Help! So, what can I do to protect my site?

The best way to keep your online business safe is to partner with a reputable company that offers website maintenance, like our team at The Branding Agency. 

Knowing how much time and energy (and cost!) go in to fixing a security breach is key. But, knowing who to go to for help to protect your site—so you don’t have to deal with costly negative issues—is priceless.

To keep your site safe, we offer important services that manually update important Word plugins every week and run backups in case a plugin update breaks your site. For $150, you can subscribe to this service and receive valuable added layers of protection—and peace of mind. 

Want to learn more about how we can help you keep your site secure? Give us a call at (704) 800-7413 or email us today to learn more about how we can help improve your website performance with an in-depth site audit. Our affordable, expert services and helpful resources can get your site quickly evaluated and putso you can start seeing positive results. 

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How a Website Audit Can Unlock a Higher Google Ranking

SEO, or  "search engine optimization”, is the process of enhancing your website to catch more organic or unpaid traffic from Google search engine results. Successfully managing this process can be the make-or-break practice for getting your site seen by possible clients. Without good SEO, folks won’t find your site when looking for similar businesses. But, with successful SEO, search engines will find you when scanning the web and serve your site in top search results (a process often referred to as “crawling”). 

Hiring a good SEO optimizer, like those we employ here at The Branding Agency, to audit your site can be a game changer for your business. Poor SEO employed by an inexperienced optimizer can damage your site and reputation (costing big bucks for you to fix). That’s why enlisting the help of a pro to conduct an SEO audit of your site is essential. 

Let’s take a moment to walk through what a basic SEO audit looks like, and review some next-level tools that are sure to set your site apart from the competition.

SEO Audit: The key to your site’s success

An SEO audit can help you find essential metrics and information regarding your site’s online performance. Identifying how your pages rank against competitors will help you see what’s working—and what’s not working—across your website. 

A pretty good SEO industry average score is about 76% (that percentage reflects that amount of traffic that is reaching your site). This reflects the average baseline. But, the very best, top-tier websites see scores of 92% or higher. 

So, how do you get to that stellar score level?

Working with an SEO expert, like the Branding Agency, is the answer. 

We often see audit scores for new clients that enlist our help initially ranking in the high 50s or low 60s. That baseline tells us that search engines don’t like the way the site was originally developed and the site creator is getting penalized for poor SEO.

For these folks, any money they’d previously invested into their site is quickly going down the drain. Even if they’re blogging and adding new, clean content to their site, search engines just aren’t ranking them high enough, due to dismal SEO optimization.

Taking the pulse of your site with a baseline SEO audit

How healthy is your site? An SEO audit is the best way to see how strong your site performance is—and help diagnose what may be negatively impacting your search results.

We like to start our site audits with Google Webmaster SEO Guidelines. Adhering to these important, industry-standard guidelines ensures your site is optimized with Google’s most up-to-date best practices (which can change often, as the internet grows and evolves). 

When we use webmaster guidelines in a baseline audit, we follow five main touch points:

  1. Research: Every web project we embark upon begins with research to identify the keywords that your specific audience uses when searching for your business. We’ll help you identify and employ keywords that have the right mix of monthly search volume and rankability. 
  2. End-User Content: The Branding Agency creates content using the themes that are most appreciated by customers, prospects, bloggers, and others who are likely to share and link to thoughtfully designed content. Our professional content designers often create onsite blog posts for clients that inform and educate customers and prospects. This end-user content can be a helpful SEO booster.
  3. Links: Even the very best web content won’t shine, unless it has inbound and outbound links that Google can find when it crawls your site. We use several strategies to incorporate links on your site pages and acquire backlinks pointing back to your site, to positively impact your website's search rankings.
  4. Analysis: For realtors, it’s all about location, location, location. But, for web designers and strategists, it's all about analysis, analysis, analysis! Analysis comes before, during, and after every project we tackle. Our approach to analysis includes both tracking and fine-tuning: We monitor and track rankings, organic traffic from keywords, and search traffic, and adjust accordingly throughout site maintenance, so we can make corrections as needed to ensure your goal metrics are being hit.
  5. Reporting: We strive to provide a direct line of site to your  traffic, rankings, and conversions—so you can see how many visitors are coming to your site, picking up the phone to call you, or filling out contact forms on your pages. 

Using the above touchpoints for an initial review and cleanup of a site can often boost site scores that had been in the low 50s and 60s up into that baseline average (around 75%). 

But, for us, hitting a baseline isn’t quite good enough. Our goal is to go another step and dive deeper into your site audit to further boost that baseline ranking up to  90% or higher.

Leveraging SEMrush for an added layer of optimization

On top of basic SEO optimization and adhering to Google Webmaster SEO guidelines, many web experts are looking at more innovative ways to optimize their client's websites. Using SEMrush, a valuable optimization tool, offers us one such way to achieve those high-level SEO ranking and help your site function as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

With a massive database of over 46 million domains and 120 million keywords, SEMrush has the ability to help really dig into your site audit. Some of the next-level opportunities that help to set apart this level of SEO optimization and site review include  identifying SEO operational issues and making improvements in key areas, like: 

  • Crawlability. Remember when we mentioned how essential it is that Google be able to crawl your site? Here’s where we can really dive into your sitemap and ensure there are no errors and everything is working in your favor.


  • Site Architecture. Like any good house, your website needs a strong foundation and architecture. Having a healthy site architecture means happy users—and effective crawlability. Next-level site auditing can ensure you have SEO-friendly URLs and your website’s internal and external linking are free of mistakes or errant redirects.


  • On-page Issues. Content duplicates, poor page titles and headers, and ineffective meta descriptions will wreck your site. Luckily, we can help with that.


  • Technical SEO.  Is your site optimized for mobile viewing? And, how is your HTML coding? Don’t let poor tech SEO hurt your site. Fixing these issues is a  big SEO booster (and unfixed issues are an even bigger SEO breaker).


  • HTTPS. The “S” in HTTPS is an important differentiator—it signifies an extra layer of security. But, moving your website to HTTPS isn’t a DIY project. Leave this task to the pros. They can ensure the process of moving your site moves smoothly, and they will ensure it stays maintained and running safely.


  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP is a complicated technology that can help to boost your site’s page speeds. As SEMrush explains, sites with AMP allow mobile users the ability to open the desired content from Google’s search results in an instant. (To help you set up your AMPs correctly, SEMrush audits can detect over 40 AMP related mistakes while showing you the exact line of code where the error crept in. Once that info is identified, we can then help you fix it.)


Initiating an SEO Audit

Now that you know just how important and beneficial an SEO audit can be, let’s get you started. 


The Branding Agency is your first step in the SEO audit process. Our affordable SEO packages and helpful resources can get your site quickly evaluated, so you can start seeing positive results. (Many of our clients find the additional traffic they see coming to their site practically pays for the service itself.)

Give us a call at (704) 800-7413 or email us today to learn more about how we can help improve your website performance with an in-depth site audit.

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Improve Your Website Performance with Google Search Console

As a small business owner, it is essential to have a solid web presence. Your  digital storefront is your online calling card, and ensuring your site is designed well and optimized for maximum exposure is integral to people finding (and hiring!) you and your services. 

But, as we all know, running a business is time consuming and often expensive. And, some small business owners may cut corners to save a little extra time and money, by standing up a quick-and-easy DIY website to get their business online. 

Although this may seem like a good way to go, if you’re feeling a little strapped for cash and time, unfortunately it isn’t. By going this route, your chances of finding success are rather slim. You may have a shot if you’re in a smaller town and you’re one of only a handful of businesses. But, if you’re in a mid-to major market with 250,000 people or more, you’ll be competing with multiple businesses—with stronger web presences. And amplifying your business with a free Wix site, for example, just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll likely get lost under far more successful sites.

That’s where Google Search Console can be a real lifesaver.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free service that can help you and your business monitor and maintain your site’s presence and performance. Focusing on Google search results, this valuable tool can help you troubleshoot--by seeing what’s working well and what’s not. 

What does signing up for Google Search Console do for you specifically? It gives you a line of sight into any issues your site may be having, your top pages and keywords, and where your site needs improvement. Email alerts help you easily stay on top of it all, so you can identify and fix these problems quickly.

The following are a few additional examples of what the Console can do for you:

  • Confirm that Google can find your website and successfully crawl your content. 
  • Identify any indexing problems—and fix them or request re-indexing of new and/or updated content.
  • See your website’s Google Search traffic data. Including how often your site pops up in Google search, what queries pull up your site pages, and how often people are clicking on those queries and into your site.
  • Receive email alerts regarding site issues, to help you identify and fix problems quickly.
  • See what other sites are linking to your website and it’s pages.

Why do you need Google Search Console?

If you’re a business owner with a website, Search Console is essential to maximizing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) potential, so that internet users can successfully find your site.


Plus, the Console can help you better manage your site, review and understand your site analytics, and track your traffic. Having this important visibility into your site’s key analytics, like the four metrics below, can be the difference between making or breaking your site’s successful web performance:


  1. Impressions: How often your pages surface in Google search results
  2. Clicks: The number of folks clicking into your site from Google search
  3. Average CTR: CTR or clickthrough rate measures how many people see your site pop up in search, and then actually click through to your site’s pages.
  4. Average position: The ranking of your site’s keywords and/or pages on Google search pages

Having access to these tools can help you better identify and fix maintenance problems and server errors, site loading issues, and also help you boost your security. 

Google Search Console is indeed a valuable business asset, but unpacking and understanding everything the tool offers can sometimes be complicated. 


How can we help you and your business?

Building and maintaining a website that adheres to Google Best Practices and configures to the Google Search Console is a sure-fire way to be successful online. But it is time consuming and can be confusing, too.

Working with a pro, like our team at The Branding Agency, takes the guesswork out of making your site shine. And, having someone in your corner who knows how to monitor and interpret Google Search Console results offers you a huge advantage over competitors that aren’t leverage this tool.

We can help you identify the baseline data your SEO needs to bring site success. And, our affordable SEO packages can quickly launch positive search results. (Many of our clients find the additional traffic they see coming to their site practically pays for the service itself.)

Ready to get started? Contact us to learn more about how we can help you improve your website performance and achieve success by leveraging Google Search Console.

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We are an alternative to the high priced traditional advertising firms & the low buck mills that can not offer customized services.

  • 16607 Riverstone Way #200,
    Charlotte, NC 28277
  • 704-800-7413
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