SEO 18

SEO

4x3 News

Diesel Adventures has engaged 4x3 to manage their web content and to devise a marketing strategy to improve SEO and increase your page ranking organically on major search engines and social media platforms.

Content and Social Media Marketing

After conducting a complete website audit of Diesel Adventures, 4x3 created a solution to improved audience engagement by bringing relevant, useful, and entertaining information to customers. Every strategy was thoughtfully designed to educate visitors about Diesel Adventures and their services through newsletters, blogs and social media campaigns. 

4x3 manages Diesel Adventures' social networking sites, including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Google + and YouTube.

"Starting a new business is hard. Being new to the world of content marketing, 4x3 have been very patient with all my questions and helping to me understand what works and what doesn’t. The campaigns that have been implemented have certainly increased my brand awareness and audience reach."
Steve Murphy | Founder | Diesel Adventures 

ABOUT DIESEL ADVENTURES

Diesel Adventures is an adventure travel company that specializes in overland expeditions and small group adventure tours on a variety of countries and continents. 

Diesel Adventures prioritizes what you are looking for in your tour -- be it culture, history, architecture, the wild outdoors, wildlife, hiking food or any specific interest -- so they can give you their expert recommendations on the very best trip that will suit you.

Visit the offical website »

September 7, 2017

4x3 News

When GF&M Law contacted 4x3 for a redesign of their website, we worked closely with the firm to create a site that reflected the class and professionalism of GF&M but also was functional on all devices and SEO-friendly.

Thoughtful Structural Design for Businesses

4x3 specializes in business web design; we strive to create just the right website for each client. Our services range from custom CMS design and development to logo design and visual branding and beyond. 

Our work with GF&M Law focused not only on a functional responsive design, but also site architecture and accessibility. The GF&M law firm website homepage and interior pages are optimized for search engines, potential clients, and fellow peers. 4x3's thoughtful design integrated SEO-friendly structure into every aspect of the website. 

Why Structure Matters

Good site structure is at the very core of organic SEO.

GF&M Law's SEO-friendly site structure is one of the most crucial aspects of a site’s SEO performance. We purposely created a site with logical and hierarchical site structure. This allows users to finding pages where they’re expected, thus locating what they are seeking more quickly. The more appealing GF&M Law's site to users, the more appealing it is to search engines, too. Google’s algorithm uses information from users to rank the site. 

Good site structure enables great user experience, which in turn provides the site with higher Google ranking and sitelinks on search engines.

Visit GF&M Law's portfolio »

ABOUT GF&M LAW

Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A. is a law firm located in Wilmington, Delaware. Their staff boasts a number of highly skilled attorneys and paralegals prepared to fight for their clients in cases about Captive Insurance, Trusts and Estate Planning, Fiduciary Litigation, Commercial Real Estate, and more.

The firm is also affiliated with The First State Registered Agent Company. GF&M Law can provide incorporation services for Delaware corporations and formation services for Limited Liability Companies and Limited Partnerships.

Visit their website to learn more »

August 21, 2017
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At 4x3, our SEO services are designed to increase client rankings organically on major search engines. For our client, Arizona Opera, 4x3 has developed a custom, fully functional website to manage content in an organized and SEO-friendly manner.

What is SEO?

Short for "search engine optimization", SEO is a online marketing discipline applied to websites to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness on search engines. SEO allows businesses and individuals to facilitate organic (non-paid) traffic to their website.

4x3 works closely with Arizona Opera to optimize their content and nurture organic SEO for their website. To do this, we have focused on 6 simple SEO techniques to increase their ranking and visitor traffic.

1. organized and structured site

SEO isn't just about building search engine-friendly websites. It's about making your site user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Having years of experience in web design and development, we created Arizona Opera's website in a way that search engines can understand. Simple URL paths and site maps are key!  

2. mention of locations

With approximately 3.2 billion people online, it is likely that at least several thousand are searching for any specific keyword at any time. A major way to target your audience and push yourself to the top page of Google is to mention your location.

Unless an Internet user is purposefully searching for general information about an opera or opera house they will not find Arizona Opera. As such, most people will search for a more narrow term like: "opera house arizona" (577,000 results) or "opera house phoenix az" (234,000 results). Luckily, Arizona Opera has a distinct advantage in this category simply because their location is present in their opera company name, which significantly helps with narrowed Google searches.

Arizona Opera is on the top page of Google because 4x3 has helped the opera company monopolize many searches in Phoenix, Tuscan and surrounding Arizona townships.

3. use of keywords in titles, headers, meta descriptions 

The same principle of mentioning your location on your website can be applied to titles, headers and meta descriptions as well. 

Whenever we update content for Arizona Opera we consciously include keywords about specific performances, ticket sales, events and press coverage that the opera company wishes to highlight. By repeating keywords whenever practical (especially in areas that search engines pull information from) Arizona Opera gains the top Google ranking.   

4. implementation of mobile site

It's important to remember that SEO has both technical and creative elements. 

Responsive design is a necessary feature for any modern website. In fact, Google has new mobile friendly test that can inform visitors if your site has a responsive design. This can inevitably affect your website's credibility, local SEO, click-through rate and lead generation. Google has even gone as far to state that responsive web design is the recommended mobile website configuration and penalizes any site that is not responsive.

5. engagement on social media

SEO is all about web presence. Active websites will always be favored over inactive sites. While this applies to website content, it can also refer to social media. Websites with active (and multiple) social media platforms attached to the website see additional traffic and credibility given to both their website and search engine ranking. 

Arizona Opera is extremely active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Soundcloud, which in turn drives additional traffic to the website and generates organic SEO. 

6. creation of content with a long shelf-life

Content that is consistently relevant (not time limited) can be searched months or years after posting. This kind of content, when found, will bring visitors to your website and then drive them to your more recent content. Timeless content always gives you a better chance at competing for the top slot on Google.

For Arizona Opera, we help archive of all past opera performances. When an opera fan searches for The Magic Flute or Rigoletto they are drawn to the Arizona Opera website where they can then search for more recent performances of their favorite operas. Visitors will always find what they want while Arizona Opera gets the views.

The Results

Interested in SEO?

Whether you need a website designed with SEO in mind or you just need help boosting your Google ranking, 4x3 is here to help! We utilize the most up-to-date methodologies to optimize search engine indexing.

Read more about 4x3's SEO services »

June 12, 2017

4x3 Ideas

After two and a half years doing content marketing and Website copywriting at 4x3, I’m moving on next week to a new job. While excited to be starting this new chapter of my professional life, I will always be appreciative of the time I spent here working for Stephen and Amy.

I recently created an updated job description to help in the new hire process for my position. When I sent it to Stephen to look over, he asked, “Is this what you thought you were going to do when you started?!”

Well, that’s a good question. I did not know I would learn as much as I have about the ins and outs of the Drupal CMS. I did not know I would do so much SEO work and client consulting, or participate in design and branding discussions.

I didn’t know I would be sampling craft beers for “research” and getting on the mic at a beer festival to announce prize giveaways. I didn't know I'd be singing the National Anthem at a rugby tournament.

And speaking of rugby... If you told me when I started I would be writing commentary on the sport’s rise in popularity and covering matches like a sportswriter, I’d have said you were crazy.

4x3: Creativity & Collaboration

In other words, like all good jobs, working at 4x3 was unpredictable in the best sense. The variety of work I was able to do and the level of trust put in me by Stephen and Amy was both gratifying and enriching. The office environment encourages creativity and collaboration, and getting to work alongside designers was a real bonus. I’ve gained a true “360 degree” perspective on marketing and insights into an entrepreneurial, client-centered approach to doing business that no previous job was able to give me.

So thank you, Sianos, and all the people I’ve worked with at 4x3. It has truly been a great experience and I wish the best success to this awesome little Web design shop as it rockets toward the future.

July 25, 2016
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Social media, viral videos, pop-up events—there’s lots of fun options these days for marketing your business. In all the enthusiasm for new media channels, some of the older strategies can get left by the wayside. When it comes to reach and ROI, however, sometimes there’s no better path than the tried-and-true press release.

Our client AGA Developers had a few marketing goals with their latest project, South Square, a 19-unit residential and retail project in South Kensington. They looked around at the coverage other developers were getting in Philadelphia real estate blogs, magazines and newspapers, and wanted to raise their profile through these same channels. It’s clearly a good strategy for them—real estate and development is a perennial hot topic in Philly, and AGA Developers has been building in some of the city’s trendier locales: Fishtown, Graduate Hospital, Point Breeze. Their entry into South Kensington would again put them on the cutting edge.

Setting Goals, Generating Buzz

In consultation with AGA, three marketing goals were set: position principals Sean Killeen and Frank Mazzio as local experts on real estate and “go-to” sources for information, leverage South Kensington’s status as a “next big thing” in Philadelphia real estate, and generate direct publicity for South Square.

We wrote a trends piece In January about South Kensington for AGA’s website and social media, quoting Sean on the neighborhood’s attributes and why it is taking off.

This joined other articles in Philadelphia magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other outlets about real estate, nightlife and foodie trends in Fishtown and Kensington. Our timing was perfect.

In early March, a short piece on South Square appeared in Vox Media’s Curbed Philly. The following week (March 8), we released an attractively-designed press release about South Square to many local media outlets and real estate reporters. As a result of this, South Square was featured on Philly.Com in a piece by Shannon Rooney, with Sean Killeen directly quoted from the press release.

Big-Time Coverage

This was followed by an inquiry to 4x3 from the Philadelphia Inquirer real estate writer, Alan Heavens. Heavens was writing a big feature on the real estate market in Fishtown and Kensington, had seen the press release in his inbox, and wanted to include South Square. We steered him toward Frank, Sean and their realtor, MGC Real Estate Group. Through this article Killeen would get his wish—quoted as an authority in a trends piece (published March 29) that mentions South Square as a key development project.

We responded with a piece of our own for the AGA website and social channels about the flurry of attention around South Square.

But this wasn’t all. Heavens followed his article up with a major feature in the April 10 Sunday Inquirer profiling AGA Developers and South Square—pictures, a big graphic (provided by us), the works. AGA was now being presented as prime movers in the redevelopment of the old industrial district of Kensington—a major PR victory for Frank, Sean and the firm.

We’re proud of the role we played in helping this happen.

April 14, 2016
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In search, Google is king, but that doesn't mean you should ignore the other search engines out there. According to Search Engine Land, one in five searches now take place through Bing—not a small percentage. Other search platforms are also growing (i.e. Duck Duck Go, based right here on the Main Line), and old warhorse Yahoo holds on to a significant amount of Internet searches.

So how is SEO optimization different with some of these other search engines? The markITwrite blog offers some good advice, with a few key points expanded on here.

Bing and Yahoo: Go Meta  

While they are no longer considered by Google, meta keywords (which describe the theme of an individual Web page) still matter in Bing and Yahoo. Plus, Bing and Yahoo do more than Google to index rich media content such as Flash and Silverlight, so pay attention to directory and file names when utilizing these applications (you still want to put any text you wish to be crawled outside of such media).

Bing helps Facebook return search queries, so that’s a good reason to pay Microsoft’s search engine some attention. You might weigh keywords a bit differently to return particular Bing/Facebook results, for instance.

Duck Duck Go Loves FAQs

FAQ pages can help return results for specific search queries. This can be especially helpful with Duck Duck Go, which tries to directly answer such queries on its results page.

When you type “How can I become a member of Historic Odessa?“ into Duck Duck Go, 4x3 client Historic Odessa’s FAQ page comes up second from the top. While returning multiple pages from the Historic Odessa website, the same question in Google does not (for us) bring up the FAQ page anywhere on the first page of results.

This is a good example of why different search engine algorithms matter.

SEO Optimization

For the most part the advice for search engine optimization is similar no matter which service is used—mobile responsive sites, a link-building strategy, quality content, local keywords, alt tags. Good SEO is good SEO, after all.

February 15, 2016
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Some interesting data was released this week by the publishing analysts at Parse.ly. The goal was to discover where a majority of the Web traffic for seven of this year’s biggest stories came from: search (Google, Yahoo & others), or social media (Facebook & Twitter).

Ratio of Search to Social Traffic

  1. Mayweather vs Pacquiao: 66% / 34%
  2. Ashley Madison: 66% / 34%
  3. Bobbi Christina Brown: 45% / 55%
  4. Charlie Hebdo: 38% / 62%
  5. Rachel Dolezal: 29% / 71%
  6. Ahmed Mohamed: 27% / 73%
  7. Cecil the Lion: 27% / 73%

In five of seven top news topics, more traffic was generated by social—in all but one case, significantly more. 

Social Media Strategy for Businesses

Clearly, the emergence of social media as a traffic-driving force should have a big impact on SEO and marketing strategy. 

If you are an ad-supported business, “the balance between search and social is one of the key factors in brand advertisers’ decisions about ad spend and creative,” Parse.ly notes. 

More to the point is the implication for optimizing search results vs capturing eyes on social media. Creating rich, shareable content is a powerful way to draw traffic to your site. Depending on your business, this could be tips or trend pieces, current events tie-ins, memes, breaking news—whatever gets your audience sharing.

Not sure what works best? Getting the data on social platforms is easy—just monitor likes, shares, retweets and follows—and both Facebook and Twitter offer ways for you to boost posts and target specific audiences, tweaking your campigns until you are able to optimize content for your intended targets.

SEO is obviously important and will continue to be, but social media needs to be a big part of any growth strategy. In fact, the two strategies help each other—more social media traffic to your website tells Google your content is important, which can raise your search ranking.  

December 1, 2015

4x3 Ideas

As recounted in last week’s blog, we tried a little experiment in writing viral headlines — choosing three different versions of a headline and promoting them on Facebook to see which got the most response. Businesses that rely on Facebook clicks do this kind of testing all the time, and on a much bigger scale. 

The posts concerned a controversial new beer from the New England Brewing Company. Check out my previous post to see how the headlines did—who took the bait, and why. 

More on Viral Headlines

The results were interesting and in some ways surprising. In addition to what we reported last week, here are some more observations about viral headlines:

  1. DO be specific. The headlines that were more specific about what was offensive (“beer label,” “beer can”) did much better than the headline that just referred to “beer.” 
  2. DO appeal to emotions. Suggestions of controversy, heartbreak, joy—even negativity—will get a response. 
  3. DO leave them hanging. Click-baity headlines are teasers—try to get a reader's interest without telling them exactly what the story is about. 
  4. DON’T tell people how to react. Suggesting a reaction turns people off. As viral publisher Outbrain puts it: “Don’t tell your readers what to think.”
  5. DON’T use the word “you.” This can be seen as pushy or sales-y. 

These last two may have been strikes against our headline “Do You Find This Beer Can Offensive? Many People Do.” It did pretty well, but also inspired a response that could be seen as negative or defensive—maybe the person did not like the idea that he was supposed to be offended.

So, be specific without giving it all away, and create an emotional response without being pushy. In other words, “This Little Dog Got Lost in a Snowstorm. What Happened Next Warmed My Heart” is better than, “Your Heart Will Melt When You Read About This Poor Little Rescue Dog.” 

This Editor Has Some Amazing Things to Say About Viral Headlines. We Thought #16 Was Funny

I looked at a lot of articles online claiming to crack the code of virality, and the most useful (and entertaining) was one from Adam Mordecai, Upworthy's Editor-at-Large. Like Dose (the website mentioned in last week’s blog), Upworthy also tests headlines—and puts a huge emphasis on writing (and trying) a large number of them.

February 4, 2015
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The New Yorker magazine published a fascinating article last month about Emerson Spartz, the 27-year old Chicagoan who has made millions repackaging content to gain clicks on Facebook using viral headlines. 

Spartz’s business model is entirely data driven. Content on his websites—Dose, Lolbrary, Unfriendable, and many others—use attention-grabbing headlines or photos to get clicks and shares from news feed scrollers. His main site, Dose, employs an algorithm that tracks the success of many different headlines created for the same piece of content. The headline attracting the most clicks eventually wins out over all the others. 

Viral headlines: Insane, hilarious, awesome…

Using this system of zeroing in on the most "click-baity" headline, a Dose post can gain several hundred thousand page views a day. The winning headlines tend to promise a huge “wow” factor. Some recent examples: “18 Haircuts That Are All Too Much. #11 Why Would You Do That?!,” “21 Of The Absolutely Most Insane Things That Have Ever Happened On Tumblr,” “You'll Never Believe That This Food Is Illegal In Berlin.”

Writing a viral headline

I decided to try this approach out for myself. Using a story published on the BBC about a controversial beer can depicting Gandhi, I wrote three click-baity headlines and promoted them on our Facebook page. For each version of the post, we set a budget of $5 and “boosted” it on Facebook. The three posts were exactly alike except for the headline, were sent to the same targeted audience, were boosted at the same time and for the same duration (two days). At the end of the boost period, we checked how many "actions" (clicking, liking, sharing or commenting) each version of the post got.

Here are the viral headlines:

  1. I Would Not Have Believed This Beer Could Anger a Whole Nation
  2. The Beer Label that Shocked and Angered a Nation
  3. Do You Find This Beer Can Offensive? Many People Do 

And here are the results:

  1. 10 Actions: 9 link clicks and 1 page like.
  2. 72 Actions66 link clicks and 6 post likes. (THE WINNER)
  3. 53 Actions: 49 link clicks, 2 post likes, 1 share and 1 comment.

Interestingly, headline #3, which suggested a reaction, inspired the most heated response (a comment, like and share from a person who seemingly took offense at the idea that they should be offended).

A surprising gender gap 

Also interesting is the gender breakdown. In the case of #1 and #3, the overwhelming majority of those taking action were men—96.2% for #3, and 90% for #1. Women took a lot more interest in #2 (the winner), making up 20.8% percent of those taking action.

See next week's blog for more insights into using viral headlines. The process of boosting these headlines was also a real learning experience—see more about this in a future blog.

January 26, 2015

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We all know how difficult it can be to get people to find and view a website, Twitter feed, YouTube channel or Facebook page. Posting to social media can feel like a drop in a bucket (reservoir, really) unless you can create the mojo that makes a bit of content go viral—and anyone who’s tried knows what a challenge that can be.

Your online audience: getting out in front

The best way to earn consistent views is by gaining followers or subscribers, something that keeps your message out in front of your desired audience. E-newsletters have long been a great way to build an online audience: whether you are a company looking to generate sales leads or a retailer promoting a new product, there can be no more powerful tool. The trick is to get people to fill out that quick form.

Building an online audience

The decision to subscribe/like/follow/whatever should be easy, should be fast and should be integrated into the flow of a person’s interaction with your content. When possible, it should come with a reward. If you create downloadable content, contests or webinars, include a newsletter sign-up check box as part of the registration process—their interest in what you are offering is the motivation.

Even something as simple as liking a Facebook page can create big dividends. Let’s say you agree to “like” SEOptimer’s Facebook page in order to download a report (as seen in the picture with this article). Now you’re getting SEOptimer posts in your feed, which creates plenty of opportunity for them to make a case for subscribing to a newsletter, trying their software, or (the ultimate goal) becoming a paying customer. The quick, simple act of hitting that “like” button opens the door to many opportunities.

January 16, 2015
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I think the best way to sort out the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) myths and mysteries is to use the logic we all possess. If you want someone to find your website, write about what they are searching for and they will find your page -- your single SEO phrase.

Start with a single SEO phrase

Create a page to focus on a single SEO phrase. I'm going to pick one for this post just like I did with the big blue toy monster. I start by picking a topic relating to what our company is all about. I then begin by writing my blog post based on my thoughts and the ideas I want to convey. Separately, I work on a list of SEO keyword phrases that will enhance our website overall. By the time I'm finished writing my first draft, I'll have a list of keyword phrases that relate to what my blog post is ultimately about. I then incorporate those key SEO phrases back into the document in paragraphs and into headings.

Blog About Work-Related Topics

On this very topic, I tell my employees to write about things that interest them and, in turn, things they would like to work on. Our philosophy at 4:3 is to choose employees that excel and are interested in the kind of work we do and the kind of work that will, of course, benefit our clients. Once on our team, part of their job is to blog about work-related things that interest them. If we've done our job correctly, they should be blogging about the kind of things that we all want to spend time on at work. So, we choose our employees based on the SEO phrases that interest them.

Apply simple writing techniques to your content marketing

My english teacher from high school would be proud to know that I still follow the simple writing techniques I learned my junior year. Amazingly and simply, they apply to SEO and ultimately SEO phrases. I have to add that my junior year of high school was 1976-1977. Words like Web, website, content marketing, search engine optimization phrases and Internet did not exist. I learned that each paragraph is a separate thought and the series of interconnected paragraphs relate to a single theme -- what we know today as a single SEO phrase.

Be specific with a single SEO phrase

Being uber specific about the topic of my blog and the single keyword phrase makes my writing more interesting and more focused and Google likes that! If you pick too many SEO phrases in your content marketing, you water down your focus and Google can't focus on a single SEO phrase.

October 16, 2014
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Like anything worth doing in life, successful content marketing doesn’t just happen—you’ve got to put in the effort. More than this, you’ve got to have a strategy. Good intentions alone will not bring attention to your business or organization. 

As I pointed out last week, simply having a presence on the Web will not do much for your business if you do not actively market yourself online. It’s kind of like the difference between putting a business card on the billboard of a campus student center and setting up a table where you hand out information, incentives and attention grabbers (soft pretzels, anyone?). Sure, a few billboard browsers might lay eyes on your card, but not many. And of those, how many will actually care?

Good SEO Practice

This is why reaching out to audiences through social media, e-newsletters and good SEO practices is so important. You want people to find you when they are looking for what you offer, and stick with you once they do. Frequent posts on your website/social media and “push” marketing to subscribers and followers is central to this effort, and that usually means having a dedicated individual whose job it is to keep information fresh, send out updates and offer incentives. 

No business or organization is too small, too narrowly focused or too “low tech” to dedicate resources to this effort. Just making a vague resolution to have people in your organization post, tweet or share content as needed will not cut it. Not only will the content marketing not consistently happen, it can lead to confusion and contradictions in messaging. 

In a nutshell: make a plan, and anoint an individual or team leader to execute it. Done right, your content marketing will bring the eyes, hands and dollars you need to achieve success—with or without the soft pretzels. 

September 24, 2014
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The thing about search engine optimization is ... if you are capable of sound reasoning that is ... it all makes perfect logical sense. 4x3 does it. We really do understand it.

I realize that makes it easier for us, but do not let anyone tell you it's rocket science. It is not.

Big Blue Toy Monster

Think of searching on Google just as you know searching on Google - nothing more. Don't over complicate it. Don't over think it. If you are searching for a "big blue toy monster" you want to get results that are all of big and blue and toy and monster. In turn, create your page to talk about big and blue and toy and monster. Nothing more, nothing less. Don't choke the page with keywords. Just write about the search phrase.

Getting to the Top of Google

I will say, you need to be leery of the "we'll put you at the top of Google" promotions. What the heck is the top of Google anyway?

I guarantee you that a week from now I will be at the top of Google for the phrase "big blue toy monster" -- guaranteed. I'll be at the top because I am creating a page that talks about big and blue and toy and monster and, if you think of it, who really talks about big blue toy monsters anyway? So no one talks about it, no one posts pages about it, so I'm feeling confident that I'll be "at the top of Google." There's lots of toy monsters, but there's less big blue ones. My title - an H1 tag - has big blue toy monster in it. I've added a sub-title - an H2 tag - with big blue toy monster in it. And I'm writing specifically about big and blue and toy and monster.

So the promotion will put you at the "top of Google" for some pay-per-click phrase that you pay for dearly or an organic phrase that is too long and unfocused from your objective. By the way, if you are selling big blue toy monsters -- watch out! I'm climbing the SEO mountain as you read.

Tagging, phrasing, focusing and submitting the Big Blue Toy Monster

So yes there is tagging and phrasing and focusing and submitting that helps get you to the top, but simply craft your content marketing message on your webpage to be specific and clear and focused and direct and you're more than half the way there.

September 9, 2014
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Google recently presented a live, invite-only webcast for small businesses and marketing agencies. Naturally, it was focused on the company’s own Web products, tools and strategies, but Google being Google, that’s a pretty good chunk of what anyone needs to know about marketing online.

The presentation felt especially relevant since here at 4x3 we’ve been paying more attention to Google Plus, the search giant’s social networking platform. Most of you probably know Google Plus (or Google+) as that profile page you are forced to accept along with the suite of Google products you actually use (YouTube, Gmail, analytics, etc.). Yet Google Plus, long the butt of did-they-really-think-they-could-compete-with-Facebook jokes, deserves more than a passing glance, and not just because the platform is steadily gaining active users. Google seems determined to make it a lynchpin of SEO.

Google Plus and SEO

Have you noticed the carousel of thumbnails that appears across the top of search results when you type in a phrase like “Philadelphia restaurants”?  Or the sharp-looking display box with pictures, a map, and reviews that shows up for some businesses to the right of results? (Search for “Bibou Philadelphia, PA” to see what I mean.) These are businesses with active Google Plus profiles, and Fred Vallaeys, the company’s search marketing evangelist, made it clear that high activity on Google Plus — the number of “Plus Ones,” posts, ratings and reviews — determines whether you will show up on that carousel or get your very own special box. 

“Ranking number one organically is not as important as it once was because of Carousel and other new formats for search results,” Vallaeys told webcast attendees. This is kind of like when the guy who guards the secret Coke formula suggests you might want to "up" the amount of vanilla in your soda recipe. It’s not the sort of tip you want to ignore. 

Reviews were mentioned several times during the webcast. They help organic search because they tell Google your business is important to people (recent algorithm changes emphasize fresh content and frequency of engagement). The Google guys recommend asking people for reviews on receipts and business cards. It’s also a good idea to offer incentives for people to connect with you on social media. 

At this point, it’s difficult to say just how important Google Plus is, or how much time and effort you should spend on it versus Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other more popular platforms. One thing seems sure though: while Google Plus may continue to make some snigger, Google has the reach and resources to make sure they get the last laugh.   

Jim Sturdivant is 4x3's content marketer and SEO copywriter.

June 4, 2014
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I’ve worked for many years on the editorial side of things—first in community journalism, covering tempests in a teapot in Philadelphia, South Jersey and the New York suburbs, and later in business-to-business media, writing for magazines, updating websites, planning and putting on events.

Along the way I’ve witnessed the evolution of thinking on SEO and optimizing website content. To say that, ten years ago, optimizing for websites was an afterthought to many publishers and businesses is almost giving them too much credit. It was barely a thought. Content was often thrown up with little regard for whether anyone would -- or would want to -- actually read it. Putting stuff online was just something you (grudgingly) had to do.

SEO: Quality Content

How times have changed. Any business that isn’t thinking about SEO is a business that is not interested in growing. Five years ago, most of the talk around SEO focused on keywords, meta description tags (which tell people using search engines what a site is about) and clean URLs. While these are still important, there is so much more to consider today.

Quality content, descriptive headlines and section titling allow search engines to find key phrases and home in on what your site offers.

Social Media Marketing

The explosion in social media means platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are a major source of links back to sites, and therefore improved search rankings. Successful websites today are updated frequently with fresh content (native or user-generated) and encourage dynamic interactions that pull traffic to and from the site -- this tells Google your content is important to people. While changes to search engine algorithms have (thankfully) made spammy posts crammed with keywords obsolete, keywords and descriptive phrases, utilized correctly, are still very important.

SEO strategies today are multifaceted and evolve organically, just like the queries and interests of the real people Google and Bing want using their platforms -- and you want coming to your site.  

Jim Sturdivant is 4x3's content marketer and SEO copywriter

March 25, 2014
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4x3 Ideas

This is the second in a five part series on social networking and your website. There's a few simple things you need to do to your web page. Google demands it.

#2 Webpage Optimization

5 Ways to Draw Them In to Your Website 'Socially': Part 2

Let’s face it, when it comes to the World Wide Web, Google is king. People aren’t searching on the Internet anymore, they’re 'googling', and if you want them to find your site without going directly to it, Google is more than likely the engine that will drive them there.

SEO: Optimize Your Page

The concept of optimizing your page so that it will be ranked higher in a Google search seems completely incomprehensible to a lot of people. In fact I’d bet that outside of those of us who do this for a living, the term Meta tag might as well be Greek. The fact of the matter is, it’s really not that hard. It just takes a little common sense and some informative content and you too can master it.

Organizing Your Website Content

First things first, Google can’t find something that isn’t there. They might be good but they’re not that good. If you want your site to be listed when you search for a term or terms, it is important that those be emphasized content of your site. For example, if you want people to search for “used Buick” and find your page, you had better make sure that your page not only mentions used Buicks, but features them throughout.

Organizing Content is Vital

Organizing your content is an absolutely vital part of this process. In today’s world you’d be lucky if someone reads your page for more than a minute, so it’s best to make sure they see what you want them to see. Properly used headers can take your site over the top. When Google is searching through the cluttered internet, your clear organized headers will be like a street sign telling it to stop right there.

So let’s run through the steps of optimizing your webpage. While this concept is overall a pretty common sense idea, that’s not to say you can’t leave it to the professionals. We’re good at what we do, and we’d be glad to do it for you.

Optimizing your Webpage

Step 1: Content is Key!

Make sure that your page’s content is informative, well written, and factual.

Step 2: Organize!

Organize the content by using H1, H2, H3, etc. tags to create a hierarchy of information that setups your site in a way that Google can find it, and we can read it.

Step 3: Write a Meta Description

Write a meta description that summarizes the content of your page that utilizes key phrases, and entices users to read more on your page. This description is what Google uses as the text in their search result field.

November 4, 2010
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Website Launch

4x3, along with SK Designworks, are proud to announce the redesign and launch of the new NaviGATE website. The new site integrated organic search engine optimization, was constructed on the Drupal content management system platform and features a custom design by SK Designworks.

NaviGATE is a boutique management consulting firm located in Villanova, PA.

September 23, 2010
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Website Launch

4x3, partnered with SK Designworks, will redesign a website and integrate organic search engine optimization for NaviGATE. The site will be constructed on the Drupal content management system platform integrating a custom designed theme. NaviGATE is an IT management consulting firm located in Villanova, PA focused on helping organizations successfully align their IT operations with their overall business goals.

SK Designworks

Soonduk Krebs has been managing and operating SK Designworks since 1996. Prior to forming SKDW, she worked as a practicing designer for seven years, during which time she learned how to understand and address the needs of a wide range of clients, from multi-national corporations like Citibank, to small, local not-for-profit entities. Today, Soonduk uses her experience to develop creative, dynamic design solutions for some of the region’s most important commercial, educational, public service and not-for-profit institutions.

NaviGATE

Bringing to bear more than three decades of experience managing all facets of IT strategy and operations, The NaviGATE management team has the capabilities to transform a company's IT group into a results-oriented, client-centric organization that drives business value.

June 27, 2010
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