Author Archives: Market Hardware

A Real Life Success Story

I started my company, InsideOut Improvements, LLC, in 2012, and we provide services for landscaping and tree care. About a year or so later, I ended up changing my company name to Palm Beach Tree & Landscape to better convey the services that we provide. With that name chance came many challenges with my online rankings.

At first, I was posting flyers around my area, and was operating simply through word of mouth. I was operating well for a new small business, but I had to take a part-time job in the process to make ends meet. In an attempt to make the phone ring, I was convinced into doing some online marketing with the local phone book. After cutting the first check, I was waiting for the phone to ring- they never did.

That’s when I decided to take my business online. I had a website built (www.palmbeachtreeandlandscape.com), created social media pages, a blog and did everything I saw my competitors doing. Still, as a new business, no one could find me in searches on Google- even if they tried!

Luckily I found Market Hardware! I’ve been working with them on my SEO campaign for about 8 months, and business has been GREAT! The phone is ringing constantly and business has never been better. Not only do they provide great results but they are always communicating with me so that we can gain the best possible return for my money.

Now that I look back on my experience I realize that I’m a business man, not a marketing guy, and I sure am glad that I found Market Hardware.

Finding an SEO company that will make — not break — your business in 2015

Each day we hear more and more horror stories about SEO scams, well-intentioned but misguided Web marketing efforts, or even tech folks who can’t answer simple business questions – you name it.

While most SEO companies have at least adequate technical skills, many don’t seem to provide what business owners really find useful: a voice on the other end of the phone. You would think that it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a company willing to explain their process, right? Guess again.

So, what’s a business owner to do when it is time to focus on SEO? In this article, we’ll highlight some of the ways you can steer away from the wrong Web firms and find the right one.

Know what to expect

Knowing what to reasonably expect from an SEO company can make all the difference.

Ask yourself these questions at the beginning of the process:

  • Do you want to have input on day-to-day SEO operations?
  • Are you okay with waiting a few months for significant results?
  • Do you want a dedicated point of contact?

As with housing, ‘let the buyer beware’ is the rule. Most of the time, you may not have enough information about what you’re purchasing. Most SEO firms will leave you feeling disappointed if you don’t do your research beforehand.

Here are the five most common ways that SEO firms disappoint their customers. If you want to get a good return on your marketing dollars, a great head start includes being wary of these common pitfalls:

1)    The “Overpromise & Under-deliver” Routine

The majority of SEO companies tend to over-promise to get your company more business. Any promise of immediate results should set off red flags right away. Most SEO providers well promise you the moon just to get you to sign up.

2)    The “Hide What We’re NOT Doing” Routine

If an SEO company isn’t taking the time to educate you with key knowledge about their process, one of two things could be the cause. On the one hand, they might not want to give away secrets. But, on the other, it might be because they have no intention of delivering results. Figuring out why they may be hiding information is critical.

3)    The “Just Wing It” Routine

If an SEO company is hesitant to give up ANY information about their process or roadmap for your success, start looking elsewhere. This is a huge red flag and you deserve to have all of your questions answered.

4)    The “Long Time No Hear” Routine

Some SEO providers will attempt to convince you to sign a contract, but then go dark any time you try to reach them to see what they’ve been up to. You should expect to have a dedicated point of contact, and a direct line to reach them so that you can have your questions answered right away. And of course, avoid getting locked into a long-term contract.

5)    The “Excuse Me, Come Again?” Routine

Many people at SEO firms are hired for their technical skills, not their ability to talk to customers or listen to their business needs. The best SEO providers are good at both, and will be able to patiently explain their process in plain English, even if you’re having trouble understanding.

Of course, not every service provider can get it right ALL of the time and SEO providers are certainly not exempt from this rule. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting, why it’s right for your business and what the price really is before you sign on the dotted line.

Just know, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While web marketing can be confusing and scary, it’s easiest to remember that hiring an SEO provider is just like hiring a contractor. The key to picking a good one is finding whose capabilities line up with what you really need. Ask as many questions as you can – you’ll be glad you did.

Try these questions for starters:

  •  Ask for references in your industry. You’ll be amazed how many “bad apples” this will weed out.
  •  Ask how to reach them if you have questions. You should have a direct phone number and an email address for contacting your provider.
  •  Ask what the plan is if your results are not satisfactory. Your SEO provider should work with you to try out new strategies if current ones aren’t working.

Getting to Page One on Google is realistic, if you’re working with the right firm. But finding an SEO provider you can trust and who can get you great results while communicating with you can take some research. Look for a SEO partner who takes the time to understand your needs and educate you and you will get the results you deserve. Now go out there and market harder!


Alain Parcan is the Director of Marketing for Market Hardware, Inc. and contributed this article. Market Hardware helps small businesses compete on the Web and offers special discounts for professional association members.  Ask Alain any Website or Internet Marketing question by emailing inquiries@markethardware.com or calling 888-381-6925.

Featured Client – M&M Mechanical

We are pleased to feature one of our newest clients this month, M&M Mechanical.

M&M Mechanical is a full-service HVAC company located in Lorton, VA. They have just started working with Market Hardware earlier this year and are one of our ‘local clients’ being only a half hour away! M&M Mechanical is family owned and operated and has been dedicated to providing high quality services to their customers for over 35 years.

The MH Team can’t wait for more things to come in the future with owner, Rick Gemmer, and the rest of the M&M Mechanical team. Check out their website at www.mmmechanical.com!

Featured Client – My Second Home Pet Resort

We’re happy to feature one of our long-standing clients this month, My Second Home Pet Resort.

My Second Home Pet Resort is a pet care facility located in Nashville, TN, and has worked with Market Hardware for several years now. They have a full portfolio of services with us: SEO, PPC and a Website. The owner, Chris Starko, is a “VIP client” to Market Hardware employees, as he is always quick to provide input and feedback.

We look forward to continuing to work with Chris and the rest of the folks at My Second Home Pet Resort going forward. Check out their Website at www.mysecondhome.com!

How to use the holidays to your advantage on Social Media

  • How to use the holidays to your advantage on Social Media
  • Use the holidays as a time to reach out to your followers. It’s as simple as wishing people a Happy New Year, but the goal is to let your customers know you value them.
  • Around this time of year everyone is looking for a great deal – so provide your followers one! It can be as simple as providing a free consultation or “Your first hour FREE”. Offer a deal that is valuable to your followers, but can also generate more business.

    PRO TIP: Add a specific hashtag to your deal to monitor the conversation. #MHholidays

  • Update your Social Media pages to a holiday or winter theme. Keep it brand specific, and get creative! Own a pet resort? Change your cover photo to some dogs playing in the snow.
  • Have a great recipe? Share it – remember we want to stay timely and relevant, holiday cookies and drinks are a great way to provide some additional value and grab your followers’ interest.

What does Facebook’s High Quality Content Algorithm mean for your business?

In August, Facebook announced yet again they have changed it’s News Feed algorithm with the goal of providing higher quality content to users. As this has rolled out, we’ve learned more and more how this change affects your business’s page.

This new algorithm was put in place in hopes of seeing an increase in post interactions. What does this mean for you? Businesses should focus on posting timely and relevant content, always thinking in the back of your hear “does this have potential to be shared” and “do people want to see this”.

For more information on the updated News Feed algorithm check out this article on Mashable and this update from Facebook.

Unique and consistently updated content is still an important ranking factor

Following our post on the importance of blogging unique content, we received an influx of calls from clients asking for recommendations on what they should be posting. The importance of blogging frequently shows the search engines that you have a website that’s consistently updated with fresh new content. In doing so, we’ve continued to see ranking improvements for our clients who blog regularly.

For many, the thought of posting a blog regularly seems like daunting task. Generating unique and industry-related content is key, but your blog posts do not always need to be formal. They can be informative posts about recently completed projects, news within your industry, or funny stories that you’ve heard while on the job.

If you’re looking for an example of a blog that uses these tactics, head over to http://garageking.wordpress.com. This is a blog with posts unique industry specific content relevant to the garage door industry.

As always, we’re here to answer your questions and help guide to your web marketing success!

Alain


This article was written by Alain Parcan, Marketing Manager at Market Hardware, Inc. This article purely contains opinions and professional advice from Alain and is not indicative of major SEO strategies.

DNS Services – Business Owners Beware!

DNS Services Scam

An example of the DNS Services 'invoice'.

Over the past few weeks, we have been receiving many calls from concerned clients regarding an ‘invoice’ received from a company called ‘DNS Services’. Our advice to you is to simply disregard it and throw the message away!

Very often, companies will attempt to scare website owners into purchasing their services, even when they are not necessary. With DNS Services, this is not any different. Using the contact information from your registered domain, they have created a very convincing invoice-style mailer. However, when reading the fine print under the total price, you will see the statement reading, “This is a solicitation for the order of goods or services, or both, and not a bill, invoice, or statement of account due. You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer unless you accept this offer.”

 If you are a Market Hardware website client, contact us before responding to any solicitations about your domain name! We will help you decide if it is real or if you are being scammed.

Google makes major change to local search

Here’s why Google+ Local matters to your business

Google+ LocalGoogle revamped their local search results yet again, this time rebranding it as “Google+ Local.” The new look, which is already live, integrates users’ recommendations and emphasizes ratings from friends on Google+ to provide more accurate information about local businesses.

Rather than linking to Google Places listings, local search results will now redirect to Google+ pages. Users will also notice that each listing now has a 30-point rating rather than a 5-star rating.

The last, and potentially most meaningful change, is that search rankings are now likely to be heavily dependent on Google+ recommendations. So if someone in your Google+ Circles recommends a certain business, that business will show up higher in your search results. Google’s search ranking formula is expected to otherwise remain unchanged.

Why you should care:

The good news and the bad news: Most businesses already have a Google Listing set up. Google automatically converted all existing Business Listings to the new Google+ Local layout. However, if you haven’t set up a listing yet, be sure to do so as soon as possible. Call us if you need help.

We suggest you familiarize yourself with the new layout and be sure to check out your rating. If you’re missing some features on your page like contact info or photos, note that this might cause potential customers to skip over your listing and call your competitor instead.

If you have questions about marketing in your local area, contact us. We know what it takes to be found locally. Clients in your area are looking for businesses like yours online right now. Make sure that your information is displayed correctly so that your phones keep ringing!


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June’s Featured Web Expert:

Web Expert of the Month

This month we celebrate Chris Goddin. Chris has been a dedicated member of the Market Hardware team since he began as an intern in 2006. Chris manages the Search Engine Marketing department, oversees Market Hardware’s Pay-Per-Click service and also plays a leadership role on the Account Management team.

Chris grew up in Bethesda, MD, and attended Emory College in Atlanta, GA. Chris and his wife Meghan have been happily married for two years. Chris plays left field for Market Hardware’s softball team and brings some serious power to the batting lineup. He can also be quite the character in the office. Any guesses as to who he is impersonating in his photo to the right?


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Web Digest Factoid:

Google controls over 66% of the search engine market share. (Oracle Digital – June 2012).

What is Market Hardware’s Web Digest?

At Market Hardware, our mission is to help you be an educated and successful web marketer. So we created the monthly Web Digest, quick, easy-to-scan news from the world of Internet Marketing.

Your Web Marketing TeamThe Web Digest complements our educational materials and is another example of how we’ve “got your back” when it comes to web marketing.

Cheers to your web success,

Alain Sig

Alain Parcan

Market Hardware, Inc.

Newsletter Editor

 

 

Baseball or Disney World?

Making the Phone RingMy wife and I are planning on surprising the kids this summer, and we’ve been going back and forth about what they would want. If you ask me, I say a 10-game ticket pack to see the Washington Nationals and Bryce Harper play. She’s in favor of taking the young ones down to Disney World for a weekend.The answer, which I guess I could have anticipated, was: “Maybe we can do both.” Now we’re not big-spenders by any means, but we’ve been better about saving our money recently, and when it comes to the kids’ happiness, it would be worth it. So as I browse through which baseball games to see while looking up hotels in Orlando, my mental multi-tasking got me thinking about this month’s newsletter.

At Market Hardware, we get a “which one do I need most” question about Web marketing all the time. Our clients want to know which strategy would get more business from the web – Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO). “Can I do both?” We hear it all the time.

Since we are talking about Web marketing, my self-proclaimed expertise, I get to give you a slightly better answer than “yes” or “no.”

2012 Hint
The Bottom Line: Both PPC and SEO programs drive more traffic to your website, which in return should increase your sales. Now, here are the differences.

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Get short term, guaranteed results from Paid Search…

Also known as PPC – refers to online advertising that can guarantee a “Page One” placement on Google. It is a fast and measurable way to generate inbound leads from web-savvy consumers.

OR get long term results and lower cost from Search Engine Optimization…

SEO is the process of managing your website’s content and organization to improve its ranking in the “organic” search results. Done right, SEO can provide long-term results on the same search engines as PPC.

“Ok, enough already… what should I do?”

Individually, both PPC and SEO will improve your Website’s exposure in your local market area, therefore increasing the amount of leads your Website generates. But if your budget is tight, I have a suggestion about which one to test out first: PPC.

PPC advertising provides fast results. After successfully bidding to have your site posted in the “sponsored results” section, your business listing will show up immediately when prospects type in the keywords you bid on. On the other hand, Search Engine Optimization is a smart and rational Web marketing move but it can take up to several months to work. Of course, SEO has more benefits than PPC when it comes to mobile search engines. (But that’s getting into the nitty-gritty of things, so email me if you want to hear more about it.)

Most Web marketing experts will tell you that the most effective Web marketing plan utilizes not just SEO or PPC, but a combination of these two strategies. In other words, experts recommend that you “do both”. But I am willing to disagree with that advice in some cases. If you are truly cash starved and need to generate business now with the most effective marketing spend possible, PPC will get you there faster than SEO.

However, if you are in a position to be more strategic and want your marketing to be healthier in the long term, SEO and PPC work well together. The most successful businesses use a combination of the two in order to dominate the Web.

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If you want to learn more about PPC or SEO, email or call us at 888-381-6925. We’re always happy to have a quick chat about how to effectively set up a campaign for either strategy.


Power Stats:

In the United States, Google accounted for 78.8% of search advertising spend (PPC) in the first quarter of 2012. Yahoo/Bing accounted for 21.2%.

Source: IgnitionOne – digital marketing firm, April 2012


 

Griff’s Last Stand…

GriffinMy motto in the dynamic world of Internet marketing is simple: Do something. Even if the best possible choice is to market on several fronts, marketing on just one front is not the wrong answer. It’s a great second-best choice.Still need counseling? Call us and tell us about your planning horizon. We’ll help you sort out some of the good, better and best choices you can make this month.PS — Want to talk more about Web marketing, Social Media or professional Website design? Call us at 1-888-381-6925 to talk to someone right away or email me at newsletters@markethardware.com and I’ll reply as soon as I can. We’re always happy to help.