Shameless Self-Promotion

How to Set Your SEO Goals and Objectives

Meeting your marketing goals is a no-brainer. What’s a company without promotion, or a product without buzz? Whether you’re in the luxury auto business, oversee a chain of upscale hotels, or sell insurance, marketing is a crucial part of your business. Of course, you’re well-versed in the new age of online marketing, whether you came up from the beginning or are a digital native — but are you focusing on your SEO goals?Like pairing a choice cut of meat with the perfect glass of wine, your marketing strategy and SEO objectives should work beautifully together. But first, you have to know what you want your goals to be. Not sure where to start? Follow along. We’re going to walk through a foolproof strategy to crafting goals for your business that will take your ROI to the next level.

What Your SEO Goals Need To Accomplish

The end result of any SEO strategy is profit — plain and simple. You’re not in business to JUST make friends, even though that’s a big plus. On the road to increasing revenue, there are a few pit stops that don’t have clear dollar signs attached. However, they’re just as important as any measurable transaction. These are the KPIs to keep an eye on, so pay close attention!

Pulling Rank

Here’s why you’re taking a deep dive into the world of SEO: to be number one with a bullet on Google. In the U.S., Google reigns supreme, with a market share of 63.4 percent.

The second biggest search engine might surprise you — YouTube. Facebook is growing in leaps and bounds every day, too. Combined with Google, they represent a stunning 103% of digital advertising growth. It’s safe to say aligning your organic marketing and SEO strategy is something you can’t afford to ignore.

Getting Traffic

First comes rank, then comes traffic — but not immediately. Traffic is defined by how many people visit your site. Even those pages that break the top ten search results aren’t successful overnight, so be patient with this metric.

A great way to pull in potential customers is to make sure your meta description and title tag are appealing. Great content gets clicks, so align marketing and SEO with attractive content for maximum results. Getting eyeballs on the page is important, so it’s crucial to utilize search engine optimization to climb the search engine ranks.

Engagement And Relationships

This is truly the meat and potatoes of your SEO strategy – profit is just dessert. Engagement can be a like or a click, but your overall aim is to build a relationship. Website optimization goals can sound very clinical — metadata and tagging — but this is the part that’s very human.

Here’s the reason why building online relationships means more than ever: if a person feels a company aligns with their values, their sense of self, they’ll promote that company. Through a like or a share, driving friends to your site with Facebook links, they’re doing marketing for you. And you didn’t have to spend an extra dime. How can SEO help you achieve this hard to measure goal? By getting you in front of your audience…

Building An Online Community

Do your own search engine research and see what topics are associated with your product or service. Craft winning content around a narrow focus and promote it on your social sites. Don’t just think about plugging your products — people smell a disingenuous ad a mile away.

Instead, answer your clients’ questions; add value to their everyday life with a fun picture. Yes, the engagement metric is difficult to pin down and there’s no faking it, but if this isn’t one of your main goals, you risk being left in the digital dust.

Conquering Conversions

OK, so you’re in the top five search engine results, you’re seeing more people clicking onto your site, and you’ve built a nice online community. Now, how do you finish the deal?

All of the above is wonderful to have, but where you can really shine is by mastering conversions. First, you need a clear idea of what a conversion looks like to you. Is it a subscription to a newsletter? Is it a wholesale purchase? Once you’ve clearly defined that goal, line up your marketing and SEO strategies to really kill it. This is where you’re going to need to do some research on your customers — study the psychology of what leads them to turn over their cold, hard cash to you.

Tap Into Your Customers’ Mindset

If you’re finding this step in the process puzzling, why not ask your customers directly? Include an exit survey after a purchase, or send a follow-up email to gather some insight. You might not get a bounty of answers, but whatever you get back will at least yield a few clues. In turn, you can use that information to tweak your content and target what areas you rank highly for.

For example, if you’re selling golf equipment and you’re not seeing ideal golf ball sales, there are a few things you can do. Look into the purchasing habits of the customers that are buying them. Do they tend to prefer one brand over another? If so, feature that brand on your product page! Next, create content regarding the golf balls — things like “top five high performance golf balls” or maybe even try something funny, like “craziest places golfers have lost their golf balls”.

Switching things up and having a dynamic approach is part of that engagement thing we mentioned before! Whatever a conversion looks like to you, do your research and hone in on your strategy.

Going Beyond the Ordinary

Now that you’ve mastered the most basic SEO elements a company needs to focus on, you’ll want to go beyond the ordinary. That’s why you’re going to need to bookmark this article.

There are other strategies that many people overlook or dismiss, but are so crucial to dominating in 2017 and beyond. Get the aforementioned goals in place and you’re ready to move on to the next level.

Reputation Management

We can’t stress how important reputation management is, especially for local businesses. Have you ever gone on an epic rant on a business’ Facebook page and then…nothing? Or how about that time you took a moment out of your busy day to bestow a five-star rating, and it went totally unacknowledged? I’m sure you weren’t too thrilled.

Believe it or not, reviews play a huge role in the world of SEO. Today, reputation management is not an easy thing. If you think you can sit an inexperienced intern down in front of a computer and have them answer Google business replies, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. That leads me to my next point…

The Right Fit for an Important Job

Hire someone with experience in customer relations to take care of your accounts. You might have to invest a little bit more than you would by hiring a newbie, but it’s worth it. Think about it — what’s your business’s reputation worth to you?

Your ranking will soar if you have someone at the helm fielding those negative reviews quickly, as they pop up. Don’t neglect your positive reviews, either. A quick “thank you” goes a long way toward building a relationship with existing – and potential – customers.

School’s In

You might have a killer line that leads to conversions. You might have all your meta tags lined up. Your traffic might be rolling in and your online community thriving. But if you think you can still do more to boost sales, consider educating consumers about what you’re offering.

Maybe your product has a hidden use. What if there’s a service you offer that people don’t know they need? Talk up your business in a way that brings a great understanding of what you do. Knowledgeable content is more engaging and builds trust in your brand. It’s a good idea to include consumer education into your goal strategy.

Bonus SEO Goals

Here are a few more ideas that can help you match your SEO plan and marketing strategy, but be careful. Not everything is appropriate for your brand.

When posting to Facebook, consider using emojis where it makes sense. They’re a great way to help your brand seem fun and young. Make sure you know what each one means, though! You don’t want a smiley face scandal on your hands.

Is there someone in your field that’s popular with your potential clients? Consider reaching out to industry thought leaders and partnering up. Influencer marketing is a great way to build trust and give your popularity a boost.

Live video is a great way to get eyeballs on your page, but here’s another place to tread carefully. Before you go live, make sure you’ve got an appropriate setup and a confident person in front of the camera. Mistakes happen, and that’s the thrill of live video, but don’t set yourself up for failure.

Unlock Your Achievements

Now that you know what elements of your strategy to work on, here’s how you’re going to achieve them.

  1. Give yourself time to measure your accomplishments. You might see your day-to-day metrics rise and fall dramatically, but you need to think in averages — SEO results take time; it’s worth the wait.
  2. That being said, keep your methods flexible. SEO is changing all the time. If there’s a new research development that says live video isn’t ranking the way it used to, move on to what’s going to meet your goals.
  3. Apply the appropriate resources to your targets. Don’t expect to create a content-rich blog with just one beleaguered intern. Work with the resources that are available – or bring in the pros.

Here at iSynergy, we’re well-versed in crafting great SEO goals and helping you achieve them, too.

Which SEO ideas do you want to apply to your company’s marketing strategy? Have you ever used any of these methods? Let us know in the comments section!

10 Stats That Will Make You Rethink Digital PR

U.S. digital marketing spend is projected to reach nearly $120 billion by 2021. A large proportion of that, we believe, will end up being spent on the growing sector of digital PR.

More and more consumers are blocking out targeted advertising, and for many companies this means thinking about new ways of communication. Digital PR is a fast-growing part of online marketing, and it’s something your company needs to consider for its online success.

Here are 10 facts you need to know in order to build or reshape your public relations strategy.

1. Getting Online

Nearly half of all small businesses in the U.S. do not have a website. But over 80% of Americans are connected to the Internet. If you don’t have your own website yet, you need one ASAP. This will be a primary place for consumers to interact with your brand, and for your business to manage how it is presented online.

If you’re not online and customers can’t find you, journalists may also struggle to make contact. This could lead to confusion and possibly even harm your business. If you’re unable to respond or comment effectively in the media, you’ll miss out on opportunities to have your brand’s voice heard.

2. Managing Your Online Reputation

With so many people using the Internet, you have to be online yourself to see what the public and the media are saying about you or your business. Having a website, though, is just the first step.

Disturbingly, research shows that fake reports can spread much faster than accurate reports. True rumors are confirmed within around 2 hours, but it takes over 14 hours for the average false rumor to be debunked. Your PR team needs to be ready to respond to these, and issue statements at any time to combat the spread of misinformation. Otherwise, unverified rumors could damage your business’ reputation.

3. Journalists Have More Access to Information

In a world with data at our fingertips, journalists can dig up innumerable facts, statistics and stories. As mentioned before – not all of these will be right, and false information needs to be dealt with swiftly by your PR strategist. Your team should pro-actively seek out and correct false facts.

However, journalists are in a powerful position when they can put together a well-sourced story from the comfort of their desks. PR professionals need to stay up-to-speed and be ready to provide just as detailed press releases and responses to journalists who get in touch.

Regularly searching for your own company’s name in the ‘news’ section of Google is a good start, but you also need to see what journalists are saying on social — follow them to keep in touch and up to date with their coverage. Using custom searches on platforms like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck can be helpful too.

4. Digital PR Can’t Rely Solely on Press Releases

Nearly every reputable journalist searches the web daily, and 73% of them go online to find press releases. That still leaves a large number of writers who are eschewing press releases in favor of other online sources. So your business needs to cover itself in other places than its own website.

PR professionals and marketers need to expand their reach online, and go to the places the journalists are going — which you may largely find to be social media these days. Traditional press releases are still important, of course, for both journalists and for SEO reasons — so don’t forego them completely. They’re particularly useful when optimized with keywords to help drive organic traffic to your website.

5. Users Are Blocking Adverts

Ad blocker usage is up 30% this year, as users become more and more suspicious of direct marketing. They are actively rebellingagainst ‘Read More’ buttons, sharing buttons and display advertising.

If your site has too much of this clutter, you’ll see the negative results in your bounce rate. However, having a solid pr strategy in place can be used to fill in the gaps left behind by the ad blockers. Even if your customers can’t see adverts, they can still see the hard-won news coverage which your PR team secured. Furthermore, they can still see advertorials and sponsored content.

When users ignore paid-for search results, your integrated digital PR and SEO strategy will make sure they see you in the organic results instead. Hit the right keywords on your website and in your press releases, then sit back and watch your rank move up!

6. Why You Need to Be Using Social Media

The number of active Facebook users now stands at nearly 2 billion per month. People talk on social. They exchange ideas and opinions — and thoughts about brands. If they’re talking about your brand, you need to be active in the conversation and manage how this reflects upon your organization as a whole.

Your customers expect you to be present on social media. But that’s not all – they expect you to respond to them in a timely manner, too. A whopping 42% expect a response to their questions in less than an hour, and 9% want to hear back in just 5 minutes!

Meanwhile, paying close attention to social media can be particularly rewarding if your business is targeting a millennial audience. This group is 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites. Although blogging is not directly related to social media, it does relate to the rise of influencer marketing. See point 9 for more on that.

7. How Are You Using Online Video?

Video is becoming increasingly more common with companies in search of online exposure. There may be more cost involved than more traditional forms of content, but particularly when video is shared through social media, the potential for that content to go viral is huge. The majority of marketers who have used video marketing in their strategy say it has a direct, positive impacton their business.

For public relations, videos can be used to issue statements and now it’s even possible to respond in real-time to questions from the public. If you’re looking to cultivate an image of being an open and honest brand, or want to engage directly with your audience rather than through a media lens, this type of activity is invaluable.

If you’re a B2B organization, you should also be aware that 59% of executives prefer video content over text. Pre-produced corporate videos can help answer a larger volume of questions in a shorter amount of time than traditional content, making it ideal for c-level execs in a time-crunch.

8. Thinking About Thought Leadership

PR professionals should be looking to get C-level executives interview exposure in a setting that lends itself to thought leadership. A regular blog written by (or ghostwritten for) your CEO can also increase your standing in the eyes of others.

A stockpile of content like this can be very useful to share with journalists who are looking for a quote or background information. It helps to get your brand’s name out there and helps you appear as an expert voice in your space.

That being said, you need to be careful and avoid going overboard. In a recent survey where buyers of consulting services were questioned, more than 90% of people think that having great thought leadership content improves a brand’s image — but also that poor content would put them off a firm, proving that quality is better than quantity.

9. Influencers Send a Powerful Message

Influencers are people who have an abundance of engaged followers on their Instagram, Facebook, and other social media accounts. They partner with brands to promote or review their products and services, and give that brand exposure with a captive audience. Their followers are very likely to watch videos or interact with posts they produce for you.

It might be hard to believe, but 92% of consumers trust influencers more than they would an advertisement or a celebrity endorsement. The use of influencer content is a good way around the issue of ad blocking software, too. Since customers are coming to influencers for entertainment reasons, they don’t get the same feeling of being marketed to that comes with traditional digital advertising.

10. Good Digital PR Means Authoritative and Numerous Backlinks

A good PR strategy will sit hand-in-hand with your search engine optimization (SEO) marketing. One of its many purposes is to generate backlinks to your website, from authoritative websites like major newspapers and popular blogs. For SEO, this is valuable, as these links will ‘impress’ Google, helping to push your own website up the search engine rankings.

While authoritative backlinks are extremely important, digital relations is also focused around brand awareness. You have to get your brand name seen and heard across the web. This is a type of off site, or off page, SEO. That’s just a fancy way of saying that while people aren’t being directly pushed toward your brand, they see it around — and if they recognize a name that’s been spoken of elsewhere, they’re more likely to trust it.

Let These Stats Lead Your Online Success

Digital PR is quickly gaining importance for businesses today, but it’s just one aspect of your overall web presence to keep in mind. Your entire digital strategy needs to consider SEO, PPC, content marketing, display ads and much more — the PR side of things can support and enhance most of these points.

Now that you’re up to date on why this service is so important, we’re sure you’ll be briefing the PR team very soon on making some changes. Of course, your team is likely already very busy. It might be time to consider bringing in external professionals, like iSynergy. Our big picture approach has produced successful and fully-integrated strategies for a huge range of clients. Contact us today – we’d love to discuss how we can help your business thrive online.

Josie Puskar, Aug 2017 hire at iSynergy

Josie Puskar Joins iSynergy’s Creative Department

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – iSynergy has announced that Josie Puskar joined its team as art director.

Josie Puskar, Aug 2017 hire at iSynergyShe most recently served as the senior graphic designer and production coordinator for PALO Creative, where she specialized in front end web design, print design and production and account management. Previously, she managed all print and product launches for a Fortune 500 company, based in California, and was awarded three American Graphic Design Awards by Graphic Design USA.

“The creative department is a cornerstone in our business, and adding talent like Josie elevates not only our work but also our company brand,” said Steve Cross, owner and creative director at iSynergy. “Her experience and skill are tremendous assets to our clients, and hiring her is an important step in solidifying our position as the leading digital advertising agency in the midwest.”

Puskar earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising from Youngstown State University and an associate’s degree in graphic design and fashion merchandising from Virginia Marti College of Art and Design.

7 Tips for Superior Social Media Management

So you’ve finished setting up all of your business social media pages, and it’s time to start posting. Now what? Don’t worry — we’re here with pro tips to help walk you through social media management.

Whether you’ve hired an agency (like us) to manage your social media, or you’ve decided to post, snap, and ‘like’ on your own you’re probably curious as to what a successful digital media strategy might look like. In this blog, I’ll give you the insider tips you need to take your social accounts to the next level.

#1: Be Genuine

This is number one because it really is THAT important. If you only take one thing away from this entire blog, remember that authenticity shows through on digital media and it can be the factor that sets you above your competitors. Social platforms are meant to be just that — social — and you don’t want to come off as a robot with zero personality.

Professionalism is an important player here, but you don’t want to be a total square either. Set a tone that matches your business objectives and works well within your industry. If you’re in the funeral business for example, you might not want to have a sarcastic edge. However, when your business falls within a creative categorization, it would be crazy to have an overly serious tone.

#2: Connect With Followers

Social media is all about building community and connections. Yes, your overall goal is brand awareness and increasing conversions through channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram but that doesn’t happen simply by gaining a certain number of followers. In order to grow, you have to build. As a general rule, your first benchmark should be to reach 10,000 followers — after which you’ll begin to see a snowball effect and that number will continue to jump at a much faster pace.

While time consuming, thanking people for following your page goes a long way and can actually help you build even more connections. Chipotle does a great job with audience interaction — they make it a point to reply to each mention on their Twitter page. Follow back, and research industry thought leaders to connect with online. Interaction is key, which brings me to number three on the list…

#3: Interact, Act, React

Confused yet? Let me clarify. Successful social media management isn’t just posting some stuff online and waiting for other people to react to your message. A large component of social networking is the networking part! Strike up a conversation with that awesome blogger you follow — interact. Comment on an author’s latest Instagram photo — react. This is the key to building strong engagement on all of your platforms, and higher engagement leads to higher conversions.

If you have 200,000 idle followers on your Facebook page, the likelihood of even a fourth of those people converting into customers is very small. However, if you had 100,000 captive, highly engaged followers the chance of conversion is much greater.

#4: Schedule And Strategize

Time is the most precious commodity, and at least once a day you probably wish there was more of it — so why waste it posting updates to your social accounts every day at various times? There are better ways to manage your time, and I’m going to share with you one of the most valuable pieces of information I ever received about social posting.

Schedule everything. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised at how many people think social needs to happen in the moment. The truth is, most successful bloggers gather content over time and then schedule it out later. Analyze your data to determine the best days and times to post to your audience, then schedule ahead of time. Having a solid content strategy in place makes it easier to spread content over time, and get the most out of it, too.

Of course there’s a time for live videos, and happening-right-now posts — but having a schedule will help you stay organized and allows you to leverage those spontaneous posts as supplements to an ongoing strategy.

#5: Utilize Tools

Agencies (iSynergy included) utilize massive toolboxes chock full of platforms designed to help digital media coordinators like myself successfully manage multiple client social media accounts simultaneously while saving time. So, whether you’re the CEO of a startup managing your own social media accounts or a seasoned pro it’s important to have the right tools up your sleeve.

Scheduling Tools:

  1. Buffer – manage all of your social accounts in one place, and schedule posts without jumping between platforms.
  2. Hootsuite – similar to Buffer, this platform has enhanced features for team management.
  3. Sprout Social – cross-platform publishing, with a higher level of reporting and focus on providing social customer service.
  4. HubSpot – integrated within their marketing software, HubSpot offers social monitoring and post scheduling capabilities across platforms.

Content Curation:

  1. Paper.li – don’t have time to research industry posts? This platform will curate content based on keywords you pick, then publish them from your Twitter at set times.

Photo Editing:

  1. VSCO – easy to use, wide selection of filters, and best of all — there’s a free version.
  2. Snappa – great alternative to Photoshop for anyone without a graphic designer on their team. Free and paid packages are available.
  3. Canva – simple graphic design software with wide array of templates for social media graphics.

#6: Keep Branding Consistent

It’s also important to be consistent on your social pages with posts, themes, tone, and visuals. Research has shown that 93% of buyers cite visual appearance as the top deciding factor in buying decisions. If you have multiple people handling your social media management, be sure to set guidelines for uniformity that align with your brand awareness plan.

For example, Instagram allows you to manage your filters to pick which ones display and in what order. This makes team management flow more consistently, since it’s easy to stick with your brand’s identity. When planning out your social calendar, it can be helpful to have specific themes each month to give direction to your posts. That way, followers have an idea of what they can expect from your content and look forward to what’s coming next.

#7: Post Regularly

As I mentioned earlier, scheduling out your social posts is a great way to save time and be more productive — but only if you keep up on it! There’s nothing more detrimental to your forward progress than falling off the social wagon halfway down the road. Only commit as much time to managing your social accounts as you can realistically afford. Don’t start off the month posting 3 times a day, then as you become busier, slow down to one post a week.

To start off, a good baseline for post frequency is about 2 times per week on each of your top social platforms. Another solid rule-of-thumb to keep in mind is that social posting is a lot like sleep. You can’t avoid sleep for 4 days then make up for it on the 5th day by napping for 18 hours; you can’t go M.I.A for a week on your social media page, then make up for it with 6 posts in one day. You’ll annoy followers, and damage your credibility.

Well, there you have it — my top 7 insider tips for superior social media management! I hope you find them to be useful in your quest for digital success. If you’d like to learn more about the services we offer, including social media management, please visit our services page today.

Important PR Keywords to Include on Your Website

Traditional public relations has roots reaching back much further than the internet. Embracing technology and using SEO to your advantage will help your marketing campaigns have a bigger impact.

Search engines have become a part of everyday life. Think about the last time you went an entire day without Googling something — almost impossible, right? The total number of online searches has risen every year since it’s invention. In 2017, that amounts to an average of 3.5 billion searches per day!

Using PR keywords on your website will increase your SEO ranking and help you reach more of those people searching. Plus, increased ranking means more visitors and more brand awareness.

Here are some ways to use keywords on your website to ramp up your SEO today!

How to Plan Your PR Keywords

Some keywords might seem obvious to you, like the name of your product or company. That’s a great start, but it’s important to use keywords that people are actually searching for. You’d be surprised at how different your expectation of search terms is from the actual keywords your target audience is using. Hint: businesses usually miss the mark about 90% of the time.

Using Google Keyword Planner

A great way to do that is with Google’s free Keyword Planner. You need a Google AdWords account to access it, but you don’t need to buy any ads.

Once you log in, click on Get Search Volume Data and Trends.

Type some keyword ideas into the box, and click Get Search Volume. You’ll see how many people search for those keywords, on average each month.

For example, if you’re a car dealership, you could try entering keywords like:

  1. car dealership (CityName)
  2. new cars (CityName)
  3. used cars (CityName)
  4. buy a car
  5. buy a car (CityName)

On the results page, choose keywords that have a high number of people searching for them.

Those are the PR keywords you should use on your website because the highest number of people are searching for them. When your content appears in a search result, people will find you and ideally click to visit your site.

Using Google Trends

Google Trends is another good source for keywords.

You can type in a topic to search to see historical search data, or you can see what the current trending topics are. Then, you can use this data to publish content on your website with those keywords.

But where should you add those to your site? Read on to find out!

How to Implement Your PR Keywords

Once you have a list of keywords, you’ll want to use them in several areas of your website:

Page Meta Title and Description

This is what shows up when you look at search results in Google. It’s the title of the page, and the 1-2 line blurb underneath it. Be sure to include your keyword in the title and at least once in the description text.

Image ALT Tags and Filename

Name images on your website with your keywords, such as “car-dealership-cityname.jpg”. You should also include relevant keywords in the ALT tag of the image. This can be done with a bit of HTML.

Some website platforms, like WordPress or HubSpot, have an easy way to add this when you upload an image.

Website Headings

Make sure your keywords appear in at least several large headings throughout your website. Those headings should be <h1> or <h2> tags. Heading tags range from h1 to h6, with one being more important in Google’s eyes than six.

Adding important terms to h1 headings throughout your copy is an easy way to increase your search engine ranking.

Website Body Copy

Use your keywords throughout your body content, but remember to keep it sounding natural. If Google thinks you’re trying to stuff keywords into content, you’ll get penalized instead of rewarded.

For maximum impact, use your keyword 2-5 times per every 250-500 words. At that ratio, you typically won’t be penalized for keyword stuffing.

Remember that although Google algorithms should be in the back of your mind any time you write content, it’s more important to make your content appeal to humans, not machines. Avoid over-using your keywords, which could come across as being spammy. An appropriate suggested keyword density is around 1.5%.

Keyword density is calculated like so: (Number of keywords / Number of words) * 100

For example, if you use a keyword 3 times in a 400-word piece of content, your keyword density would be (3/400)*100 = 0.75%.

Press Releases

This may seem obvious, but you should also use your keywords in your actual press releases.

Press releases distributed digitally through services like PRWeb or Newswire can positively impact your SEO when they include your keywords. Plus, they’re also a great source of links back to your website, further helping your SEO rank.

Social Media

Did you know that search engines take social media into account too? They do— so be sure to use your keywords in posts on your social networks.

Frequently updated, SEO-friendly social media accounts help your ranking. This practice also helps potential customers find your brand.

White Papers

Whether offline or online, include keywords in your white papers.

Even if this content isn’t indexed by search engines, your customers will recognize your keywords. This furthers your brand awareness and helps you remain top of mind to customers.

(Not sure how to do all of this yourself? We can help! Ask us about our marketing and PR services.)

Is Your Website Crawlable?

Google recently changed the name of Google Webmaster Tools to Google Search Console. It’s a powerful tool that’s free to use.

Visit Google Seach Console, sign in with a Google account, and click Add Property. There are a few ways to verify your website and the wizard will walk you through it. Once you’ve been verified with Search Console, Google will crawl your website regularly.

Crawling means it looks for new content and indexes that content into search results. Your content will show up more frequently in search results if it is easily crawlable by the internet spiders.

Benefits of Using PR Keywords on Your Website

There are mounds of benefits that come from properly optimizing your website for keywords, such as:

  1. Increased SEO ranking
  2. Increased traffic to your website
  3. Heightened brand recognition

When it comes to adding in PR keywords to increase your SEO ranking, it’s not “the more the merrier.” Try a few different phrases that are unique but still relevant to your topic.

A good rule of thumb is:

  1. Include your main target keyword 2-5 times per 250-500 words
  2. Include variations throughout, in a natural sounding way

An example of this is if your main keyword is “dog treats”, you’d want to include that term 2-5 times in your website copy.

Then, use some related phrases like “healthy dog treats”, “dog treat recipes” or even “dog food” in your copy. If someone is searching for those keywords, your post could show up in those results too.

Increasing Website Traffic with SEO

SEO is a long-term strategy, so don’t feel discouraged when you don’t see big results right away. Make sure you set realistic expectations for the amount of time you hope to see results.

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to start seeing a measurable increase in traffic from search engines after optimizing your SEO. Also keep in mind that it’s important to regularly add keyword-optimized content to your site.

Google and other search engines take into account the quality of your content and how frequently you update your website. You should see results from a concentrated SEO campaign within four to six months.

More Ways to Improve Your SEO with PR Keywords

In addition to keyword-rich content on your website, social media, and other channels, you can:

Get Backlinks from Other Sites

Getting links back to your website from high authority domains is a crucial factor for improving your SEO. When you send out a press release, include a link to your website in it. When news outlets publish your release, that link appears on their website.

News sites like CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and many others, are great authority websites. Having backlinks from authority sites like those can be very beneficial to increasing your own authority, and domain ranking. For content other than press releases, build relationships with authority websites in your category and ask for links. Comment on their content and include a link back to your website.

Start a PPC Campaign

Another easy way to increase your SEO and make use of your keywords is to launch a PPC, or pay-per-click, advertising campaign.

Typically this is done with Google AdWords, though other options exist. Studies show that using PPC along with traditional keyword optimization can increase your total website traffic from search by as much as 66%.

Write Longer Content

Longform content, typically described as content between 1,200 to 2,500 words, ranks extremely well in search engines. All ten of the top organic Google search results for over 20,000 different keywords were longer than 2,000 words in a recent experiment.

Not every piece of content on your website needs to be long form, but having at least a few posts that are will help your SEO a lot.

Conclusion

SEO is a huge topic to cover. This article has hopefully provided you with an overview of some of the ways you should be using your PR keywords on your website, and other channels that can help you.

Some key takeaways to start implementing today are:

  1. Make sure all of your content is keyword optimized, including social media, press releases, offline materials and newsletters
  2. Be sure to use your PR keywords in key areas of your website, such as H1 headings, subheadings, page URLs, page titles and image ALT tags
  3. Ensure your website is set up with Google Search Console, and easily crawlable
  4. Consider starting a PPC/AdWords campaign
  5. Write longer content for your website

Have big ideas for your PR campaigns, but lacking the time or human resources to implement them? That’s what we’re here for!

Contact us for a consultation, and let us manage all your PR campaigns for you and your clients to help you see the best results.

The Benefits of SEO Outsourcing for Your Website

Running a business is a constant battle of efficiency vs profit margin.

As a business owner, you must always weigh the potential of return on investment (ROI). Which is why SEO outsourcing may not seem to make much sense initially. It’s just writing, right? How hard can it be?

The truth is, companies who outsource their SEO work see a much higher ROI than companies who keep their SEO projects internal. Outsourcing is time-saving and cost-effective, returning money on the backend that the company might not otherwise have seen.

What is SEO?

In case you are curious or just need a refresher, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It describes an industry dedicated to studying trends across search engines and creating content which takes advantage of these trends to drive traffic.

SEO uses research to study what potential customers search for, and uses those phrases as keywords in content. Repeating keywords helps search engines like Google find a website and index it in search results. The more effective the keyword use, the higher a website appears in a search engines results.

It seems simple, but once you really get into the metrics and trends, the job of creating SEO content can easily take many hours a week. So why pay for SEO outsourcing?

Benefits of SEO Outsourcing

It’s true, you can absolutely hand off your SEO work to a current employee or hire someone in-house.

However, the magnitude of an SEO job is going to be a strain on any employee who also has other responsibilities within a company. Hiring someone to dedicate to the job is an option, but why pay an entire salary, complete with benefits and oversight, when you can hire a company of professionals?

Still aren’t convinced? Read on for the top reasons you should outsource your SEO.

1. No Overhead for a New Employee

The biggest problem with hiring someone in-house is the cost involved. Business owners know that while employees are the cogs that make the whole operation run, they do come with that pesky price tag.

This is all not to mention the cost and time associated with the hiring process, training, and oversight an in-house employee requires. Add in salary and benefits, and it’s an expensive proposition.

With SEO outsourcing, you can save time and money for you and your employees. SEO companies have trained writers, and you only pay per project — or as part of a package. Which means you don’t pay for what you don’t need.

2. Immediate Expertise

Many SEO companies keep dozens of writers on staff in niches from finance to health to education. What this means for you is that, for the cost of your service, you have excellent writers at your fingertips who know your industry and know how to take advantage of search trends.

Compare this to hiring in-house. You may find an SEO expert who knows your field, which is fine. But that’s no team. Having an entire company full of experts at your fingertips gives you the opportunity for richer content with more real-world impact.

3. Constant Analysis

SEO companies are constantly monitoring search engine trends so that you don’t have to. As these companies keep an eye on the metrics, they can see what keywords work best at driving traffic.

This sort of analysis takes time, and it helps to know what you’re looking at when evaluating the mountains of data. By having an SEO company do your content creation, you’ll have a strategy that is constantly updating to match the latest search metrics.

This way, your search traffic is constantly improving without you having to worry about the ins and outs of Google algorithms.

4. Higher Rankings and Traffic

The SEO experts are successful because they are good at what they do. Effective SEO drives you further up in search page results, which drives traffic.

Do you know how to get yourself onto the first page of search results? Maybe not — but SEO experts do — and they are great at it. It’s vital to remember that as search engine rankings climb, so does traffic. And as traffic climbs, so does your revenue.

This is where that high return on investment comes in. Hiring an outside company to ensure that your search rankings continue to climb helps build and secure a loyal client base. Which, in turn, secures a steady flow of capital for your business.

5. Set it and Forget it

Once you have secured an SEO company, content creation no longer needs to be a constant concern. Your job becomes merely an issue of providing topics (with some companies, you don’t even need to do that) and approving content before it goes live.

This gives you the freedom to take care of the parts of your business that keep it running, without having to worry about the behind-the-scenes work of keeping up with your Google rankings!

6. Confidence in Hiring

If SEO isn’t your area of expertise, hiring someone for that role can be daunting. You may not know what to look for or what sort of questions to ask.

By outsourcing your SEO to a company dedicated to content creation, that worry is eliminated. The writers and content creators have already been interviewed, trained, and screened. You can have confidence that they are excellent at what they do.

7. Timely Results

These types of companies work on deadlines. Because their employees aren’t tied up with any of the other workings of a business, they can dedicate their entire work week to creating optimized content for you.

This translates into rapid turnaround of quality work. There’s no need to start nagging employees to make sure that the latest blog post is done, no post scheduling, and no worrying that your online presence is falling off.

This also means that as new content is generated, search engines are constantly indexing your new material and your search ranking is continually improving.

8. Beginning to End Management

Outside of the initial contracting of the SEO company, there is little for you to do in terms of oversight. Once the project is in the hands of your SEO provider, they take over the management, from assigning a writer to proofreading and editing, optimization, links, and scheduling.

This becomes an entire aspect of the business that you no longer need to even think about. That leaves you with some valuable time to worry about other things — like the 75 emails you received in the past hour.

9. Customizable for your Needs

The beauty of paying professionals to do the heavy lifting is that it is, by nature, entirely tailored to your needs. From post length to keyword saturation to post frequency, you get to decide what your company needs — after all, you’re the one running the operation!

If you only need one post a month, hiring someone in-house seems silly. Contracting one post per month is more cost-effective and makes more sense financially. By the same token, if you want to post weekly, an SEO company will be able to handle the workload and turn out quality content in a timely manner.

10. Definitive Strategy From the Beginning

You will often hear marketing experts talk about “SEO strategy”. For many companies, this can take time to develop and comes from many months of trial and error. Learning to link social media sites and follow search metrics to glean the best keywords takes time and effort from your entire team.

Contracting an SEO company takes care of all those factors for you. Because SEO experts already know what works and what doesn’t, they are able to take your key audience, match it to effective social media and keywords, and create an solid SEO strategy without any guesswork.

This takes a huge amount of stress off of you as a business owner, and allows you to concentrate on growing your business without feeling like you need an extra degree in digital marketing.

11. Expert Work for Less Cost

Keep in mind that SEO companies keep a varied staff, and because they take care of the overhead, they can afford to pay these experts while spreading out the cost.

What this translates to — for you as the business owner — is expert SEO work at a fraction of the cost of an in-house employee. Even if you gave the job to an existing employee rather than hiring new, outsourcing is going to provide you with timely, better-qualified content without sacrificing in-house productivity.

In the end, the answer is obvious. Hiring a company of SEO experts to provide better quality content that will in turn churn out higher ROI makes more sense than trying to take care of it in-house. This is even before other services provided by SEO companies like social media management and website optimization are taken into account!

Have you found your own benefits to SEO outsourcing? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Why Your Website Needs a Creative Design

Have you noticed that the number of visitors to your site seems stagnant? Are you frustrated because you’re not rising in the search engine rankings? Are you spending hours developing awesome creative content, drafting blog posts, and even sharing your site on social media – only to see minimal results?

The reality is that poor website design may be to blame.

We’re not just talking about ease of navigation, mobile optimization, and making sure your internal links are working properly.

Maybe what’s pushing people away from your site is the lack of creative design.

In this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about why injecting creativity into your website is so important to the success of your business. We’ll talk numbers, ideas, and more — by the end, I’m sure you’ll be convinced to re-evaluate the importance of creative design for your website.

Creative Design: By The Numbers

You probably got into business because you’re a numbers person. To convince you why creative design matters to your website, I know we need to show you some statistics.

If you’re wondering whether or not a great website design will really impact your bottom line, listen up. In a study titled, “The State of Content,” Adobe found that over 35% of users will leave a website if they feel the layout is unappealing or ugly.

Another study found that 94% of web users said that web design was the main thing that made them either stay on a page or navigate away from it.

Another mind-blowing statistic? How about the fact that close to 50% of users said that a creative design was the most important factor in figuring out whether or not the brand was credible.

Even the colors you use on your homepage can have a serious impact on your profits. For starters, using colors in your website design increases your web recognition by over 79%. Also, if you’re looking for a way to boost sales, you might want to try using darker colors.

It was found that sites with darker themes grew by 2%, while those with lighter ones grew by only about 1.3%.

So, what’s the ultimate takeaway here?

Creative design can and does impact your traffic, your conversion rate, your place in search engine rankings — and most of all — your sales.

Let’s talk more about why you need a website design that doesn’t look like everyone else’s.

Good Design Builds Trust With Your Market

You already read above just how much of an impact the design of your website has on your visitors. Let’s get into a little more detail.

So much of business today is done online, that essentially, your website is the equivalent of your brick-and-mortar storefront. Especially if you’re an e-commerce shop or a brand that is heavily active on social media, your website may be the first real interaction a consumer has with your brand.

Just like a window display should encourage customers to come inside, showcase the products for sale, and be pleasing to look at, so should your website – especially your homepage.

First of all, don’t spam your visitors with a lot of offers, pop-ups, and too many texts. Instead, when it comes to the homepage, focus your design around branding and navigation. Include more images than words, and make sure your logo is clearly visible.

Pro Tip: Your logo should always include a link back to your website’s homepage.

Make sure that your contact information is clearly visible, as well as buttons visitors can click to learn more about your brand and its history. Your homepage should be clean, include clear navigation links, lots of images, and, above all, awesome creative design.

Popular design trends include hand-drawings of products or even employees, bold type, collages of product images, and creative typography.

Creative Design Increases The User Experience

In addition to not wanting to visit a website that looks boring, overcrowded, or just unattractive, nobody wants to spend time on a website they can’t figure out how to use, either. The overall layout of your site has a huge impact on its usability.

If your color scheme is inconsistent, it can throw off your visitors, making their eyes jump all over the page. When different menu options are all crammed together in a font that’s difficult to read, no one is going to click on them. Anytime your website design is inconsistent, users may even start to think they’ve accidentally clicked a link to another site.

Design can even influence the purchases your customers make. Functional design will help customers easily find your best-selling products or most popular services. Guide users eyes with images, colors, and even creative typography. Try placing links to products and services you want to highlight in the center of the page.

Your website design should make it as easy, and as intuitive as possible for your visitors to make a purchase or book an appointment. You don’t want to create any friction that could prevent a visitor from converting. Also think about the overall message your design is communicating, and whether it’s really consistent with the message of your brand or not.

If you’re a financial firm, a neon pink and yellow website won’t exactly make you look professional. But, if you go for a black and white color scheme on an e-commerce shop selling swimsuits, people may be turned off. Good website design is all about helping you to find the right balance between accessibility and creativity.

It Can Help You Reach New Markets

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with your current market at all. Still, wouldn’t it be wonderful to reach even more people? Creative design can help you to do that.

Maybe you primarily target a younger demographic, but you recently released new products/services that an older market could also use. How will they know there’s now something for them on your site? Because you’ve optimized your web design to include them, as well!

One way to do this is by switching up the design of specific landing pages to reflect the interests of that particular target market. For example, let’s stick with this younger/older example. Maybe your brand sells sunscreen, targeted at college students getting ready to head out for a summer vacation.

Your landing page for the younger set might include pictures of students taking selfies on a beach, playing in the waves, or rubbing sunscreen on each other’s backs in the sand. It might have more products linked to images, instead of words.

However, you’ve realized that older markets can, of course, use this sunscreen, too — so your landing page for them might be customized differently. You might try to include photos of them helping their children/grandchildren to apply sunscreen, photos of them on the golf course, or sitting on a chair at the beach, reading a book.

It’s important to think about how good website design can help you tap into multiple markets.

Design Makes Your Brand Stick In Visitor’s Minds

Think about a great design you saw – whether online or in person. I bet you remember where you saw it, about when it was, the name of the company, and what they were selling — am I right?

I would also bet that soon after seeing that creative design, you researched and wanted to learn a little more about that company. Even if you didn’t buy anything, you probably spent some time on their website. Maybe you even checked it again a few days later. Maybe it even turned into one of your favorite brands.

The point is, that creative design, in addition to boosting your sales and user experience, leaves a lasting impression on visitors. They see your brand as an authority, as ahead of the curve, and as a place that values customer experience.

In today’s world of instant gratification, where people are always looking for the “next big thing,” you need to do everything you can to be a consistent presence in the lives of the people who visit your site.

You also need to show them that you’re interested in forming a long-term relationship with them as customers – not getting a one-off transaction and moving on. Your website design can help encourage people to follow your brand on social media, sign up for your newsletter, and even become unofficial brand ambassadors.

Creative website design hooks people in for the long haul because it helps to tell the story of a brand – a story visitors will want to keep reading.

Ready To Access The Best In Creative Design For Your Website?

I told you that this post would convince you.

Now, you understand that even if you have the greatest content and products in the world, none of it is going to matter if you can’t get people to stay on your website long enough to engage with it.

So, where can you find the most creative and obsessive minds in the design world? I’m glad you asked. We offer some of the most innovative web design techniques and strategies out there. The kinds of things your competition has never even heard of.

Good web design requires that “something special,” that “X Factor.”

We have it. Want to get it for your brand?

Get in touch with us today to set up a consultation.

Announcing the Winner of Our Digital Marketing Makeover

As a digital advertising agency, it only made sense that we would think outside the box when planning a way to give back to the community. In a room full of creative minds an idea was born: what better way to give back than by offering up our services in the form of a complete digital marketing makeover to a deserving nonprofit?

The Digital Boost contest was open to any nonprofit organization headquartered in Columbiana, Mahoning, or Trumbull County in Ohio and Beaver, Lawrence, or Mercer County in Pennsylvania. The rules stipulated that the winner would be chosen via popular vote from a social media campaign that took place throughout the month of June, and today we are excited to announce the winner…

Drumroll, please…SMARTS (Students Motivated by the Arts) has won iSynergy’s first annual Digital Boost contest!

“We are excited to begin work on this project,” said Steve Cross, owner and creative director at iSynergy. “We had a great response to the campaign – SMARTS received 10,521 of nearly 20,000 votes. They are a very deserving organization, and my staff is chomping at the bit to help make a difference for them.”

SMARTS was one of three finalist organizations for our 2017 contest, which also included The Cornerstone, located in Beaver Falls, PA, and Potential Development out of Youngstown. As winner, SMARTS will receive up to $50,000 worth of website design/development, logo design, print collateral design, content writing, content editing, SEO, and website hosting for one calendar year.

“We’re so proud of the support we received, not only from the Mahoning Valley, but also throughout the country,” said Becky Keck, executive director at SMARTS. “I think it’s a great testament to the importance of teaching through the arts as well as to our support base during our transition and into our future.”

SMARTS is a community art school, located in Youngstown’s Ohio One Building, giving K-12 youth access to the arts. Their mission is to provide the highest quality in art education through collaboration and partnerships with public and private organizations.

Pictured Above: Michaela Good (iSynergy staff), Josie Puskar (iSynergy staff), Chris Anthony (iSynergy staff), McKenzie Cross (iSynergy staff), Becky Keck (executive director, SMARTS), Steve Cross (owner, iSynergy), Caroline Lorimer (program director, SMARTS), Carson Fryman (iSynergy staff), and Emily Diorio (iSynergy staff)

For more information about the Digital Boost contest rules and regulations, visit digitalboost.isynergy.io.

iSynergy combines traditional offline advertising methods with modern online technologies to produce unprecedented results. Winner of the 2016 Webby People’s Voice Award, iSynergy’s mission is to attract, engage, and delight on a daily basis. New digital technologies, design trends, and marketing developments are monitored continuously in order to craft creative assets that give iSynergy clients a clear advantage, ultimately delivering  the greatest options in marketing and design.

If you’d like more information about the services we offer in digital marketing, design, or advertising please submit our contact form — we’d love to help with your next project.

What You Need to Know About Influencer Marketing Right Now

At a digital ad agency, the only thing constant is change. Every day is different, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! We’re always working on new projects that leverage cutting-edge strategies with the latest trends in order to execute successful results for clients. (And, sometimes, this means transforming the conference room into a book signing hotspot.)

Recently, Val Bonacci, author of Fatima and the Sons of Abraham, visited our office and signed personalized copies of her new novel to send to industry thought leaders for their personal review. Why? Because native marketing and content marketing are no longer enough. Influencer marketing is gaining ground, and in today’s world, it can be a great way to reach your target audience while effectively building brand awareness and increasing ROI.

Why Influencer Marketing?

It’s no surprise that influencers have a ton of impact right now. With so many choices available to today’s consumers, the buying process can be overwhelming. Modern consumers are generally blind to billboards and commercials, and they do their research before making a decision. Think about it — when you go to make a purchase, are you more likely to buy a product you’ve never heard about or a product recommended by a friend? Most people tend to choose the latter.

This is exactly why this type of digital marketing is becoming one of the most effective ways to attract customers and clients. Different from traditional celebrity endorsement, influencers are very selective about their affiliations, because they have a niche set of followers who trust them to give genuine recommendations. As such, since you’re tapping into an existing audience of engaged followers, influencer marketing can be a valuable marketing strategy for your product or brand.

Couple this with the concept that consumers aren’t buying products but rather buying better versions of themselves, and influencer marketing really becomes a no-brainer. That “down-to-earth” fashion blogger you follow on Instagram? You don’t want her shoes — you, too, want to emit effortless elegance when you walk out your front door each morning. The shoes are just a means to the end. We follow people who we see as similar to us, because that makes it easier to put ourselves into the story.

Now that you know the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of this marketing technique, let’s talk about the ‘how.’ Behind the scenes, it’s important to keep these things in mind when reaching out to influencers with your brand or product.

1. Do Your Research

Is this the right influencer to partner with? Hootsuite recommends taking three basic things into consideration: relevancereach, and resonance. Unless an influencer has developed a substantial following relevant to your business (with a high level of engagement), move on. It’s not worth your time, and it’s not a great fit. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Build Rapport

This is an important one, so take note! In order to connect with industry leaders and get them to promote your product, you need to build a relationship first. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger on the street and ask them a favor — don’t make that mistake with influencers, either. Interact with content they’ve shared to open up a flow of conversation.

3. Be Genuine

Above all, remember to be yourself. There was a reason you decided to reach out to this person, after all — tell them why. Showing that you’ve taken the time to explore their content and that you value the brand they’ve built can go a long way toward making a strong connection.

Before You Go

Keep these tips in mind when developing your influencer marketing strategy, and remember to diversify your campaign with inbound and outbound marketing channels, too. It’s never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket! If you are interested in taking your business to the next level with the latest digital marketing strategies (like this and many more), contact our team — we’d love to work with you!