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By creekmoremarketing 20 Oct, 2017

INTERNET MARKETING  

This is a form of marketing you can’t ignore. Be sure to have a strong SEO, social media and web presence. Online reviews will be a key factor in your success.

By Elizabeth Burton 11 Jul, 2017
Like many people of my generation, my very first e-mail address was through Yahoo! Also, like many people of my generation, I haven’t used Yahoo! in years. It mostly functions as a relic of the dot-com bubble now, much like MySpace. But, while you can still access MySpace in the same way you can still access Yahoo!, does that mean you should make an account? If you are wondering if your business should devote time and energy on Yahoo!, Creekmore Marketing has created a quick guide to inform you about what it still has to offer you.

History

Like Google, Yahoo! came out of Stanford University in the 1990’s. It was created by Jerry Yang and David Filo and named “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” It was revolutionary for the time in that it organized search results into a hierarchy as opposed to an index, a move that later search engines would owe to “Jerry and David’s Guide.” Several months after the Guide was created, it was renamed Yahoo! The name Yahoo had actually already been trademarked by several different endeavors up to that point, which necessitated the exclamation point at the end of Yahoo!’s name. Through the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Yahoo! saw massive growth, as many such companies did, through the dot-com bubble, even earning the honor of being the most expensive stock ever sold in Japan in 2000. However, when the dot-com bubble burst, Yahoo!’s value crashed and never fully recovered. Various companies attempted to acquire it, but only in 2009 was it officially bought out by Microsoft. While Yahoo! is still running, it is slated to be fully replaced by Bing by 2019.

Percentage of Overall Search Volume

While Yahoo! may be essentially defunct at this point in time, it does still receive a surprising amount of search engine traffic. While it does still fall behind, it stays roughly equivalent with Bing, earning 11% of the total search queries for 2015 while Bing earned closer to 20%. While that gap may sound large, that amounts to Bing receiving 3,676 million queries in December of 2015, while Yahoo! received 2,201 million queries. While this is vastly less than what Google receives, it is still a sizable number of queries, and places it above other search engines that were created around the same time, such as Ask and AOL.

Reviews

Like other search engines, Yahoo! does not give its users an avenue to review businesses directly. While you can still claim your business’s listing on Yahoo!, the reviews that populate will be scraped from other review gathering services, such as Yelp.

Major Algorithm Changes

Because Yahoo! is so comparatively outdated, little is known about recent changes to their search algorithm. The most recent news that broke regarding it was that Yahoo! actually has an algorithm specifically dedicated to those using it to search on mobile. As for what this entails, the CEO of Yahoo! reportedly claimed that Yahoo!’s mobile search algorithm “provides a richer, more action-oriented set of experiences.” If you read our guide on Bing, this sounds similar to their goal of being a search engine centered around spurring consumer action. Ultimately, though, don’t expect many Yahoo! algorithm changes moving forward. After all, its expiration date is set for 2019 when it will be fully replaced by Bing.

Its Importance for Small Business SEO

I’ll start off by saying this: when was the last time you used Yahoo!? For many of us, it’s been years, and while Yahoo! does get a remarkable number of search queries every month, that has more to do with the sheer volume of people using the internet at any given time than it does with Yahoo!’s popularity. Yahoo! is soon to go the way of the dodo, and so dedicating a lot of time to it when it comes to growing your business will be time you can’t spend on other, more worthwhile search engines, like Google, Bing, or Apple. That doesn’t mean that you should 100% ignore it. Many services, like Yext, can claim your business on multiple, smaller platforms, such as Yahoo!, in one fell swoop, so if given the opportunity to do that in a way that won’t take up much of your time, it is a great option. For as long as it continues to exist, Yahoo! is still another patch in the quilt of SEO, but it’s a smaller, older one, and one that probably needs replacing.

Has this helped inform you more about how your business should use Yahoo!? If it has, or if you still have more questions, contact Creekmore Marketing to figure out more ways to grow your business online.
By Elizabeth Burton 11 Jul, 2017
Google is more than just a search engine at this point: it’s an institution. Google is practically shorthand for the internet at large, and this vastness can make it seem impenetrable. But like anything that exists on the internet, Google was created by people for the purpose of being used by people, and that includes you and your business. Because Google is so omnipresent, making sure that you understand how it works and how your business can utilize it most effectively is incredibly important. Luckily for you, you’ve got experts on your side, and Creekmore Marketing has developed a short guide to Google to help get you and your business acquainted with this digital giant.

History

Compared other search engines and giants of the information age, Google came onto the scene rather late, as a research project started by two Stanford University students in 1996. One student, Larry Page, was interested in how math served to link different pages on the internet, and so decided to create a database of how different pages linked to each other with the help of his friend Sergey Brin. The project, initially nicknamed “BackRub,” was created with academia in mind, to help academics find citations for research, but as we all know, it didn’t stay that way. Part of what allowed Google to become the institution it is today is the innovation that Page and Brin added to their project as part of their thesis: that the pages with the most links are the most relevant, and should therefore “rank” higher on search results. This thesis, which was written up as the “PageRank algorithm,” became the cornerstone of Google’s algorithm, and is still used today to formulate how search results populate. Google was officially incorporated as a company in 1998, and then patented in 1999. Its iconic name came from the number “googolplex,” which is 1 followed by 100 zeroes. You can see this influence still today when you search something on Google and scroll to the bottom of any given page of results: there the Google logo is stylized to have multiple O’s, much like its namesake.

Percentage of Overall Search Volume

Google is far and away the most used search engine in the Western world. In November 2016, Google received 15,303 million queries, whereas its next closest competitor—the Microsoft search engine Bing—only received 9,758 million queries. The total percentage of queries made in all search engines tends to average around fifty percent for Google, although can rise as high as sixty percent. With this in mind, it is a safe assumption to say that if someone is searching something online, they are using Google. After all, “Google it” is shorthand for searching something online in general, whether you are using Google or not.

Reviews

There are a number of ways to have your business receive reviews on Google. The most obvious, and most important, avenue is to get Google reviews directly. The service Google My Business is directly tied with Google Maps, so whenever searchers find your business on Google Maps they are given the option to leave reviews. They can also do so by finding your Google My Business listing through a standard Google search: this brings up a sidebar with your business’s Google listing and again gives the option to leave a review. Google also pulls reviews from other sites, such as Houzz, that are also displayed on your Google listing.

Major Algorithm Changes

We may only be a little over halfway through 2017 at this point, but that hasn’t kept Google from routinely updating its algorithms. Back in February, there was an update that greatly shook up keyword rankings across the board, some positively and some negatively. And then, in March, there was an even bigger update, nicknamed “Fred” by Google’s Gary Illyes. Google does not often confirm algorithm updates, but any time there is a large-scale shake-up of rankings across the board—whether they be positive, negative, or a mix of the two, as is often the case—you can assume there has been an update to Google’s algorithm.

Its Importance for Small Business SEO

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Google for SEO, whether your business be large or small. For small or local businesses, however, Google is perhaps even more necessary than for massive multinational corporations. Because of Google’s reach and resources, small businesses can be found by customers in ways that were unprecedented twenty years ago. Making sure that you are tailoring your SEO strategy to Google specifically isn’t just a recommendation: it’s a must.

If you have any further questions about Google and how your business can work with it successfully, contact Creekmore Marketing today!


By Elizabeth Burton 11 Jul, 2017
Do you routinely use Bing? Many of us don’t. Because of Google’s stranglehold on the search engine industry, it is difficult for any search engine to become particularly successful. That being said, Bing does come the closest to rivaling Google’s monopoly on the Western world’s search queries. Because of this, you shouldn’t ignore Bing when it comes to tailoring your business’s SEO strategy. To help you out, Creekmore Marketing is here with a quick guide to help you master this oft-forgotten search engine.

History

Bing has gone through a number of changes on its way to becoming the search engine we know it as today, both in cosmetics and functionality. Initially, there was no search engine with the name “Bing.” Instead, it was known as “MSN Search.” MSN, or the Microsoft Network, still exists today as a web portal for Microsoft’s many services. Originally, MSN Search did not provide its own search results, instead pulling results from other services that were popular at the time of its release in 1998. In 2004 and 2005, MSN Search began to use its own Microsoft-built search engines, although its image searches were still delivered by a third party. In 2006, MSN Search was rebranded as “Windows Live Search” and began to include search options for things like “News,” “Local,” and “Music.” Windows Live Search also began to include its own image searching. In 2007, Windows Live Search became simply “Live Search,” however, after several of its services were discontinued, it was again rebranded as “Bing” in 2009. In the latter half of 2009, Bing bought Yahoo! and aims to fully replace it with Bing by 2019.

Percentage of Overall Search Volume

I think we can all safely agree that Bing isn’t Google. Of course, there are people who prefer Bing to Google for a number of reasons, however Bing just doesn’t get the same traffic that Google does. That being said, it does come in second, although it isn’t exactly a close second: in November of 2016, Bing received 9,758 million total search queries, as opposed to Google’s 15,303 million. While that disparity is pretty striking, Bing does still receive a very high number of search queries every month and accounts for a large fraction of internet traffic.

Reviews

If you are going to create a Bing listing for your business, there is something you should be aware of: your customers will not be able to leave you reviews directly. This is a relatively new phenomenon and happened sometime early in 2017. According to Bing, they wanted to shift their focus more toward aggregating reviews, as their goal as a search engine is to help consumers make decisions. Because of this, Bing pulls reviews from other sources, such as Yelp, that show up on Bing Places listings, as well as in local search results.

Major Algorithm Changes

Because of the smaller amount of attention that Bing receives in comparison to Google, it can be difficult to track down changes in Bing’s search algorithm. Despite this, it has been confirmed that in 2014 there was a crackdown on “keyword-stuffed” URL’s and domain names. Because of this, if you attempt to fit all keywords for your business into your URL or domain names, you may end up getting penalized by Bing. Apparently, when this crackdown occurred, it affected three percent of Bing’s search results, which may not sound like much, but remember that Bing received 9,758 million queries in a single month of last year, so be wary of attempting to make you URL too SEO-friendly, as it could actually hurt your business.

Its Importance for Small Business SEO

While Bing isn’t Google, you still can’t afford to totally ignore it. Despite being firmly in the shadow of Google, Bing does still get quite a lot of search traffic. It also has some unique benefits compared to Google. Of all services that allow you to create listings for your business, Bing Places has some of the most detailed and varied business categories available. And remember: all SEO work that you do for your business is ultimately beneficial and holistic, regardless of where you choose to place your focus. And while we don’t recommend focusing on Bing at the expense of Google, it definitely is another valuable piece of the puzzle.

If you want to learn more about Bing, or about SEO, contact Creekmore Marketing and let us help your business grow.

By Elizabeth Burton 11 Jul, 2017
Sometimes it feels as if Apple owns the world. From the ubiquity of iPhones to Apple Watches, Macintosh computers, iPads, and iTunes, there are few brands that are quite as omnipresent and recognizable in today's market as Apple. Because of this, keeping an eye on Apple is a wise strategy to take for your business. But with such a wide array of products and services, mastering Apple can be a bit daunting, which is why Creekmore Marketing is here to tell you everything you need to know about this trendy company and how you can use it to help grow your business.

History

When we talk about Apple within the context of Search Engine Optimization, we’re largely talking about Apple’s own web browser, Safari, and its affiliated services. And yet, surprisingly, Safari hasn’t existed for the same amount of time as Apple proper. In fact, until 1997, Apple computers were manufactured to run the browsers Netscape Navigator and Cyberdog. Following that, Apple struck a short-term deal with Windows to package its computers with a version of Internet Explorer designed for Mac. And then, finally, in 2003, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would be creating its very own web browser: Safari. Safari did not see many major changes until the release of the iPhone, which necessitated the development of a mobile version of Safari. Also, in 2008, Apple repaid its bargain to Windows and released Safari for Windows. However, when it stopped allowing Safari to be run on Windows machines in 2012, Safari was no longer able to be run on anything other than Apple machines (which included not just Apple desktops and laptops, but iPhones, iPods, and iPads). The most recent version of Safari, Safari 10, was released alongside macOS Sierra.

Percentage of Overall Search Engine Volume

Apple Safari is not, technically, a search engine. Instead, it is much more like the aggregating web browsers of days past, such as the early forms of MSN. But, rather than being at the mercy of whatever search engine that Safari pulls, you can actually designate which search engine you would like to pull results from. This is particularly important when you consider the times and places where Safari is used. For the most part, Safari is not used on desktop machines anymore. Even Mac users tend to download browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox at very high rates. Instead, Safari gets much more traffic from people who use mobile Apple devices, such as iPhones and iPads. This is a massive sector of the population, as iPhones continue to be the most popular cell phone purchased in the Western world. However, as there is not a dedicated Safari search engine, the overall search engine traffic statistics are going to mimic the numbers we already have, with Google coming in at a strong first, following by Bing.

Reviews

Part of what makes Apple so powerful for businesses is Apple Maps. This comes pre-installed on most Apple devices and is directly connected to Safari in the same way that Google Maps is connected to Google Chrome. Because of this, if you search for your business on Safari and have an Apple Maps listing, it will be pulled up. Because of this, claiming your listing on Apple Maps is just as important as claiming your listing on Bing Places or Google My Business. Although, as with Bing Places, be aware that there is no way for your customers to leave you reviews directly through Apple Maps and it will instead scrape your most recent reviews from Yelp. With that in mind, always keep an eye on your Yelp presence as it could affect your business in ways you might not expect.

Major Algorithm Changes

Because Apple has no dedicated search engine, there can be no changes in its search algorithm. That being said, there have been changes to the setup of Safari that can impact the exposure that your business is getting. While you can define which search engine that Safari pulls from, Apple did announce in 2014 that the default search engine used by Siri, its voice recognition AI system on Apple mobile devices and newer Apple desktops, is Bing. While this can be changed, this is something to keep in mind when crafting your SEO strategy for Apple. Because of this, when dealing with Apple, it is always best to keep all of your bases covered for your business’s online presence.

Its Importance for Small Business SEO

Comparing the importance of Apple to a search engine like Google is a bit like comparing apples (haha) and oranges. They are services that do similar but ultimately very different things. While Google may have a monopoly on the internet, Apple has a monopoly on the devices (particularly mobile ones) that access it. Because of this, Apple has its fingers in a lot of pies, and so aside from claiming your listing on Apple Maps, building your presence on Apple largely consists of being consistent across the board. There is a good chance that you are reading this on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer right now, and if you are, that should make the importance of Apple speak for itself.

Have we helped you figure out how to best utilize Apple to grow your business? Contact Creekmore Marketing today to help you with every other aspect of your business’s SEO.

By Elizabeth Burton 07 Mar, 2017
It is important that your business takes the right approach to responding to any online reviews received by customers. The following are some tips to follow when doing so.

Because social media has a place in almost any business these days, it is much easier for customers to share their opinions on, or reviews of, your product or service. Whether it is through a review site, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, or the BBB, or simply in the comments on Facebook or a Tweet, there are multiple ways for the public to share their thoughts—positive or negative.

SearchEngineLand’s findings for their annual Local Consumer Review Survey in 2014 revealed that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But luckily, in the digital sphere, businesses are able to keep up a discussion with customers on these sites. However, it is important to remember a few best practices when doing so.

1. Make responding to comments a priority, but take your time to give the best response.
  • Stay alert as to when a review or comment is posted. Whether you have a social media person or digital marketing representative whose job it is to monitor reviews as they come in, or set a time to do it daily, give each review a well-thought-out response. 
2. Make a plan.
  • Come up with a system that allows you and your colleagues to categorize reviews; maybe just positive and negative, or maybe positive, negative, and serious. Then, decide how you will respond to those reviews. Come up with approved messages that should be shared in different situations, and flag reviews that need additional follow-up.
3. Respond to negative and positive comments.
  • Of course we want to jump in and put a band-aid over someone’s negative review, but there is just as much merit in commenting on someone’s positive comments. While we might feel like a customer’s adverse reaction requires a more urgent response—and in some cases this might be true—thanking someone for a complimentary review can also build relationships.
4. Don’t get defensive.
  • It can be hard to not take negative reviews personally—especially for a small business owner who has put their blood, sweat, and tears into building their company. However, a social media review is no place to pick a fight, or stand your ground. Remember that the review came from a person who has used your service or product and was dissatisfied. Use the opportunity to start a discussion on how you can improve. Even for the most biting reviews, a neutral response asking for a way that the customer can be contacted other than social media is your best bet to professionally handling the situation. When handled correctly, some customers even take back to social media to compliment the company on how they remedied a complaint.

Remember—it is to your business’ benefit that reviews receive a response. In fact, it’s been proven. Medallia released a study last March titled “Responding to Social Media Boosts a Company’s Bottom Line, New Research Finds” which examined data from hotels around the world—both business and customer data. The goal of the study was to “quantify the impact of social media engagement on a company’s revenue growth, customer satisfaction and social reputation.” According to the findings, there is a direct correlation with rate of response to reviews on social media to the number of rooms a hotel sells out. “Properties that responded to over 50 percent of social reviews grew occupancy rates by 6.4 percentage points, more than twice the rate of properties that largely ignored social media reviews,” the release went on to say.

Even though social media has caused a decline in face-to-face communication in all sectors, people still talk, and if you can appropriately handle social media reviews, you’ll be better off when the people behind the reviews do have the chance to give your company a word-of-mouth recommendation.
By Elizabeth Burton 07 Mar, 2017
For small businesses, exposure is everything. But unlike big international brands, integrating yourself into the fabric of your hometown or surrounding area is absolutely integral to standing out amongst the crowd. In our digital age, however, it isn’t enough to have an eye-catching storefront, or to put an ad out in the local paper. Because of this, Creekmore Marketing has some valuable tips on how to build up links within your local area so that your business can be seen and get the attention it deserves.

Testimonials

Before you start constructing additions to your website or reaching out to local media, work with what you already have. No man is an island, and no business works entirely alone. Have you partnered with another business in the past, even for something small? Ask if you can give them a testimonial for their website. No one is likely to turn down a glowing review, especially not from a business partner, and so in exchange, you can ask them to link back to your site. Who knows, you may even get a testimonial for your own business this way.

Manufacturer Links

Similarly to thinking about business partners, are you a retailer who sells a product manufactured by another company? Fantastic! Many manufacturers have websites that list dealers of their products. Reach out to them and see if you can get added to such a list, attaining another link to your site in the process.

Internships

You’ve plumbed the resources you already have; now think about what you need. Interns are a great resource, as they often work for little or no pay, and you can also attain a link to a university by searching for someone to lend a valuable hand to your business. Reach out to universities in your area and see if they can link to your business in an internship database on their site. Many college majors are now requiring internships for students to meet graduation requirements, and so gaining assistance, and a valuable link, should come naturally to you.

Job Posting Websites

Not all interns stay forever. Are you looking for more qualified, long-term help? Job posting websites, forums, and message-boards have the dual advantage of possibly finding you the next great addition to your team, and providing you with a visible link in your area!

Local Sponsorships

We’ve talked about the ways that your community can help your business; now let’s talk about ways that your business can help your community, and gain some links to boot. Ever notice the ads on the outfield banners at your nephew’s little league baseball game? Sponsoring a local sports team is a great way to assist your community, and you can also gain a link from the team’s website. Sports teams aren’t the only community organizations that need sponsor money, though: school theater groups, charities, and church groups all need financial assistance, and could link to your business’s website from their sponsor or donor page.

Scholarship Opportunities

With the rising tuition costs of higher education only getting higher, scholarships are a hot commodity, and are heavily sought-after by both future college students and their parents. Help students and gain some good publicity for your business by offering a scholarship. This will require a little extra work on your part, as the scholarship will require a page on your website that lays out the requirements for applicants, but could get you links from a variety of places. By publicizing the scholarship in local newspapers and their websites, high schools, or anywhere else with a vested interest in education, you can gain links with a great level of visibility, and get some very positive publicity while you do it.

Host an Event

If scholarships are not your company’s style, why not throw a party instead? Local businesses usually have the funds and resources to host an event in their town, and are another great way to get links from newspapers and similar outlets while also generated word-of-mouth buzz from grateful participants.

´╗┐Reach Out to the Newspaper

´╗┐Have you done something noteworthy for your community (like offering a scholarship to high-schoolers or hosting an awesome event)? See if you can get featured in the local newspaper! While you can't exactly embed a hyperlink in a pulp-and-ink newspaper, almost all newspapers now have online counterparts. If you get a write-up in the paper, you'll also probably end up on their website, and if that is the case, you can see if they would link back to your company's website. While some think that newspapers are falling out of fashion, many people still keep up with them, and so getting a link through them is sure to reach a wide audience, as well as endow your business with the credibility that newspapers still possess for their readers.

If you own or operate a small business, embrace what makes that experience so unique and work with the place that you’re in. Your patrons can oftentimes be fantastic resources to get the word about your business out there, and help you show up in local searches on search engines. Get creative, and help use the relationships that you’ve been through your business to your advantage!
By Elizabeth Burton 07 Mar, 2017
Like everything else in our lives, hiring for your company is also digitized. While this may seem impersonal, LinkedIn is a fantastic resource that can help you find fantastic new additions to your company. The fantastic thing about LinkedIn is that it hosts its own internal messaging service, known as InMail, which allows you to get into contact with prospective hires, business partners, or leads directly. But, like with any other sort of interpersonal interaction, there are some things you should know before you start contacting prospects via InMail. Creekmore Marketing has a few things to consider before you strike up that first conversation.

1. The time of day
You want your prospect to give you the time of day, so make sure you take this remarkably crucial factor into consideration. Being a workaholic is falling out of fashion, and so the likelihood of you getting a prompt response after normal business hours or on the weekend is slim. Send your prospect a message when you know they’ll be at their desk to read it and (hopefully) respond to it.

2. Don’t be scared of research
Social media norms would have you believe that digging too far into someone’s personal information before contacting them is a bit creepy, and while that may apply for Facebook or Instagram, it is absolutely not the case with LinkedIn. If you are contacting someone in the hope of hiring them on to your company or collaborating with them, you want them to feel special. Dropping some facts you found from their profile is a great way to make a prospect feel as if you are invested in them, and people are more likely to work for or with a company where they feel as if their skills and accomplishments are being valued.

3. It’s called “LinkedIn” for a reason
Part of the reason why LinkedIn is so amazing is that it streamlines the process of networking and lays everything out neatly for you to sort through from the comfort of your computer or smartphone. Just as you would ask someone you know who knows your prospect to put in a good word for your company, do the same with LinkedIn! If you see that you share a connection with your prospect, drop that person a line and ask if they wouldn’t mind introducing you before you start sending your prospect messages.

4. Brevity is the soul of wit
Like you are, your prospect is probably busy, and may be checking their LinkedIn account between tasks at their current job. Because of this, their time is valuable, and you want to make sure they read your entire InMail message before getting pulled away. Because of this, try to keep your message as short as you can. You want to make sure all the necessary information is there, but you don’t scare your prospect off with a deluge of information. Follow this advice from my former high school English teacher: think of your InMail message as a miniskirt—long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep it interesting.

5. Everything is subjective
How many times have your eyes completely glossed over an important e-mail simply because the subject line looked so innocuous? Don’t let that happen to your InMail message! Make sure the subject line is sure to stand out amidst their other messages, so that yours not only gets read, it might even get read first.

6. Leave them coming back for more
Just like the personal statement or statement of interest you probably wrote to get the job you have now, you want to make sure that the person you are contacting wants to follow-up and knows how to contact you. Don’t give everything about the position away. Leave enough open-ended that your prospect will have plenty of questions and will reach out to you in the future.

LinkedIn may seem a bit daunting to get the hang of, but it is an excellent resource to make connections, find fantastic new hires, collaborators, and leads. By following these tips, your InMail messages to prospects are sure to catch their eye and generate plenty of responses.


By creekmoremarketing 11 Aug, 2015
Google recently update their local search (or map) results to feature 3 businesses instead of  7. The new 3-pack features a zoomed-in view that takes up less space in search results, but features large "website" and "directions" conversion buttons in desktop results and "call" buttons in mobile results. This change is much more mobile friendly than the previous layout.
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