SEO Blog

I Heard that Big Businesses pay Google for Top Search Results. Is it true?

One of the misconceptions that discourages people from trying SEO for their business is the idea that companies have to pay Google for top search results. I have big thoughts on this topic, so buckle in.

What prompted me to write about this was a conversation I had at a networking event in Apex, NC, that made me quite irate. When I told this businessman that I did SEO, he promptly tried to discredit my whole industry, saying that the top Google search results are all from businesses who paid Google money.

Understand that he didn’t ask if this were true, or even claim to be speculating that this were true. No, this man stated it as if it was a fact.

While I understand there can be general confusion surrounding the SEO industry and exactly what we do, I don’t understand how someone can be so ignorant and dismissive without seeking to learn first.

So with this blog post, let’s put our thinking caps on.

I want to answer these questions once and for all:

1. Do companies pay Google for top search results?
2. Can a small business owner pay to get on the top of Google’s search results?
3. Is there evidence proving or disproving that companies pay Google for results?
4. If I need to pay Google, how much would it cost (if applicable)?
5. How can I get top search results without paying Google?

Whew, that’s a bunch to un-pack.

I’ll try to do it simply, and with evidence. You could believe me or not, after all I’m probably just a faceless website to the random visitor, but I ask this of you… please keep an open mind before immediately coming to a conclusion. There’s nothing wrong with getting informed before having an opinion.

Read More »I Heard that Big Businesses pay Google for Top Search Results. Is it true?

Financial Advisor Seminar Marketing and SEO

Marketing for financial advisors seems to be split into 2 camps: (1) “old” and (2) “new”. Old marketing is the type that was around before the internet: seminars, networking, shaking hands and kissing babies. New marketing is everything internet: online PPC ads, social media, and SEO.

Well what about mixing the two?

Whether you’re a financial advisor trying to land that first big client through a seminar or a webinar (the online version), it just makes sense to use both old marketing and new marketing together

(Wondering about compliance or FINRA? Read this post which covers compliance in financial services).

There’s no one secret sauce to financial advisor marketing. As you wonder how to get clients, realize that your business is a relationship business. Even just one client with enough money could get your AUM to a level that sustains your firm for the long term.

And so, like with fish… there are many types of clients, and they vary based on location. A seminar can be a fantastic way to get your business in front of the people most likely to be your anchor client. It’s up to you to market that seminar as best as you can.

Why Listen to Me about Financial Advisor Marketing?

Good question.

While I’m not a financial advisor by trade, I’ve been producing content about finance since 2013. I built an entire business based on organic SEO—selling financial advice through informational products online.

I tend to know the mindset behind the people who are seeking financial help, because I get emails from these types of people almost every single day. They find me through a search engine (Google or iTunes), and consume my content until they naturally become paying customers.

Over and over again, I hear the same messages:

  • “I’m overwhelmed by the jargon of the finance industry”
  • “I wish they taught financial advice in school”
  • “I wish I started my investing journey earlier”

These are people begging for experts like yourself to guide them through the struggles of personal finance and investing.

Read More »Financial Advisor Seminar Marketing and SEO

Dofollow Backlinks Explained, With Data Showing Why They Work So Well

Dofollow backlinks are a huge factor to success in SEO and local SEO. But, it’s not a word that most people are aware of unless they’re in the industry.

In this blog post, I’ll try to explain backlinks with a simple analogy.

Then I’ll show you data from my own website that supports a strong case for dofollow backlinks. Finally, I’ll talk about some generally accepted techniques for building dofollow backlinks, that any website owner can check that the SEO company they hired is doing.

Think about backlinks like how you’d hire an employee.

It could be easy for an interviewee to sweet talk you. It can be hard to determine someone’s work ethic based on appearances, so business owners and managers tend to consider other factors.

A big factor can be personal references.

An interviewee with 10 positive industry references is likely the better hire than someone with just one.

But it’s not just the quantity of the references either. Someone with a recommendation from a top industry leader has more credibility than someone with 20 references but from family and friends.

Google needs to decide how to rank content like an owner would need to decide on hiring an employee.

Because there’s many billions of pages per day being submitted to Google’s index, it’s impossible for all of the workers to read every single piece of content. So, they need to rely on other factors, and backlinks are a big one.

Read More »Dofollow Backlinks Explained, With Data Showing Why They Work So Well

Why Local Email Marketing is the Lifeblood of Effective SEO for a Business

You may wonder why a SEO-focused digital marketing agency is writing about local email marketing. SEO is not just about getting a higher rank in Google. It’s about driving more clients to your business.

All the attention in the world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have a system in place to properly utilize that attention.

Of the many websites I see of business owners, few are taking proactive steps to collect customer emails. 

With attention spans so decreased these days, and a countless barrage of pings and updates all vying for attention, it’s easy for potential clients and customers to forget about your business or get sidetracked, which creates lots of waste with your local SEO efforts and greatly reduces the returns.

How Email Marketing is like Training a Dog

Whether you’ve tried to train a dog, a child, or even a colleague, I hope you’ll find this analogy helpful in understanding why email marketing is so important.

Say you try to teach a dog how to sit.

He might be a bright dog, and catch on right away. However, he might struggle when you try to teach him how to roll over. He might need guidance, and more constant attention. 

Read More »Why Local Email Marketing is the Lifeblood of Effective SEO for a Business

SEO for Insurance Agents – Is it worth it?

Insurance agents considering SEO these days have it tough. On the one hand, it’s obvious that the world is becoming increasingly digital. On the other, strict compliance laws surrounding the financial services industry make it tough to really grasp what kind of marketing– SEO or otherwise—is allowed and what will get you in trouble with the law.

I had a great discussion with Paul Roberts, a financial professional in Holly Springs, NC, and he lamented about many of the hurdles people in his industry have to leap to do the right kind of marketing for his clients.

This blog post will help insurance agents who are curious about SEO with two things:

#1 – Uncovering the struggles specific to insurance SEO and compliance laws

#2 – Doing a “back of the napkin” calculation to decide if SEO (generally!) makes sense for this industry

Did you know…

A report by LIMRA back in 2015 uncovered that 85% of consumers researched life insurance policies online before purchase.

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Takeaways from the 2019 Raleigh SEO Conference

Well, I just got home from the Raleigh SEO Conference for 2019 and let me say I was just blown away. The speakers and panelists were amazingly generous with their knowledge about what’s working for digital marketing both on the content side and the technical SEO side.

raleigh seo conference badge 2019

Based on the other people I talked to who happened to sit next to me, they took away a lot from this conference as well, and had some insight of their own to add.

Interviews from Attendees

Taylor Rasmus runs social media for the company she works for in Raleigh and said she’s getting a lot of traction on Facebook in 2019 by creating unique, shareable memes that encourage engagement.

A technical SEO working for a company in Apex NC said that the focus for website optimization should be heavy on mobile page speed as was discussed in one of the conference tracks.

Anthony Welch, who also works with SEO at his company, said his favorite part of the 2019 Raleigh SEO Conference was all of the creative ways that people are thinking outside of the box with SEO today and how much was shared.

Frank Jones from OptSus Marketing did a great job at organizing 2 separate tracks so that attendees could pick and choose the topics that most interested them. Obviously I could only be at 1 place at a time, but I’ve added my takeaways from each session I attended below.

Session #1: Common SEO Mistakes

This was an excellent discussion to start the day including Jake Bohall @jakebohall, Candice Lyna @candicelyna, and Karl Sakas @KarlSakas.

One of the first things mentioned that resonated alot with me was this idea that chasing the money is a huge potential mistake. I love that long term focus as it aligns with how I like to approach marketing and SEO.

Some other mistakes that these experts have observed over the years include:

Read More »Takeaways from the 2019 Raleigh SEO Conference

5 SEO Strategy Tips for the Local Small Business

As technology grows, Durham SEO and small business is on the rise. According to CNBC, the number of Millennials are multiplying in cities like Durham.

Even if you aren’t building an online presence, competitors around you are—and it’s the businesses and startups that start their local SEO strategy now that will reap the results over the long term.

local durham SEO

Whether you’re looking to hire a local SEO company in Durham or not, hopefully these 5 local SEO tips can help point you in the right direction towards improving your business’s online presence.

SEO TIP #1: Give them what they want

When most people type a search into Google, they have a problem that they are looking to solve. It’s your business’s job to solve that problem.

But, you also need to solve their problem now before you really solve it later.

A person searching wants to know that you are qualified to solve their problem, and it’s your website that will tell them whether that’s true or not.

Say you’re a dentist targeting a local Durham SEO type-strategy.

A person with a toothache might understand that they’ll probably need to see a dentist at some point, but maybe they just want to get a grasp of how potentially urgent this is.

By describing some of their symptoms in Google, they could land on your site, and if you have the right content to guide them through so they get a sense of what they need to do next, they’ll see your dentist practice as the next natural solution.

SEO TIP #2: When competitors Zig, you Zag

Which brings me to the second point. Most local SEO strategies think too broad, such as targeting searches like “durham dentists”, and don’t try and target the keyword searches not occupied much by the local competition, like “why does my tooth ache”.

What gets lost is the fact you need to build your entire website.

Read More »5 SEO Strategy Tips for the Local Small Business

Evaluate Your Local SEO Strategy by Asking These 3 Questions

Whether you’re looking to hire a Raleigh local SEO as a small business in the area or just want to know more about what local SEO is, I’ve made this guide to educate you about how a local SEO can help your business in the North Carolina Triangle area attract qualified customers.

small business

How you evaluate your local SEO strategy or determine whether you should start one depends on how you answer the following 3 questions:

  1. How can I determine if SEO makes sense for my local small business?
  2. What makes local SEO different from regular SEO?
  3. How is local SEO in Raleigh different from other places?

As an SEO consultant who built a lead generation website from 0 to tens of thousands of views per month, I have a good sense of what works to bring eventual customers online and what doesn’t.

While not one answer to these questions will determine if you should have a local SEO strategy or not, each should play a big factor and help you make the ultimate decision for your own business.

While anyone can build traffic, it takes a smart approach to funnel website searchers into actual revenue for your local small business—and understand it’s all about ROI.

In fact, I personally don’t take on local SEO clients unless I feel there will be positive ROI.

By doing some legwork upfront, you should be able to determine whether a local SEO strategy would be a wasteful part of a local marketing budget, or if it wouldn’t be a waste… where and how you should focus your resources.

Let’s get to it.

Read More »Evaluate Your Local SEO Strategy by Asking These 3 Questions