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Restaurant Marketing Challenges

Restaurant digital marketing

One of the most significant restaurant marketing problems is obviously getting new people in the door. As many restaurant and food marketers are aware, consumers who use their cell phones to search for food convert at nearly 72%.  This is often because when someone is searching for food, they are hungry and ready to buy a meal right away.  They also are looking for someplace that is very close to them, which lends itself to Local SEO.  With that said, 33% of restaurants say attracting and keeping their customers is their number one challenge. 

These two opposing statistics are very telling of a common problem for restaurant’s online marketing.  Either the restaurants are not availing themselves to all the opportunities and benefits of hyper-local search engine optimization, or their websites are not designed with mobile users first in mind.  These problems are not mutually exclusive, as Google as taken a mobile first approach to how they rank local businesses on their maps and for Geo-Centric search terms. 

If I am driving my car in Westford Massachusetts and would like a pizza, I might search “pizza places near me” or “best pizza in Westford”  I would then see 3 pizza places come up on Google, that are very close to my location at the time.  With that said, it is highly unlikely that a pizza or sub shop whose website is not responsive, (changes its display based on the screen size of a cell phone vs. tablet vs. computer monitor) will come up in that top 3 list.  There are also many small things a restaurant can do to their website to increase the likelihood of coming up on that top 3 map view.  For example, they can make sure the term, “Westford Pizza” is in the title tag of their site.  They can also make sure their site loads quickly, and that images have the same keyword term in their file name and in the Alt Tag, that screen readers use to help blind users.  These are just a few onsite changes a food service company might make to their website. 

There are also many things that restaurants can do to help themselves form other platforms such as Facebook, Yelp and Google reviews to increase the likelihood of coming up high on rankings and even when they do, getting customers to click on their link.  The more reviews from third party sites that show someone had a positive experience at a restaurant, the more likely someone will want to learn more.  Remember, when someone is hungry, they are not in research mode, they will look for something that comes up quickly and has good reviews or stars.

For more information on Local SEO or social media marketing, contact a digital marketing agency in your area such as VRG in the Boston area today.

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What are the Benefits of Performing an SEO Audit in 2019?

SEO Audit

If your website is not found on page 1 of Google, you can lose up to 95% of potential clicks to your site, domains that slip down to Page 2 only attract 5 percent of search traffic.  With this in mind, before you start working on your website to determine which key words to compete for ranking in Google and Bing, and before you set out a strategy for digital marketing and your businesses online presence, there is one key task that must be performed to get a baseline understanding of your website, social media profiles, and how search engines view it.  This critical task is called an SEO Audit.   An SEO audit report determines about how well a website is doing and if it will be found easily on search engines, local directories and social media.  This is both an exercise in understanding the on-page technical issues you may face, how secure your website is, as well as the content challenges facing you.  It is also a discovery process by which you find out how other websites, directories and even local search engines link to you, as well as link to your most relevant local competitors that are situated in close geographic proximately to your store or service area.

There are many significant benefits of auditing your website’s SEO status.  This report provides comprehensive information about yours and your competitors’ websites and social profiles.   Just a few of the main benefits of an SEO audit report are:

  • Track your website’s programming for page speed and site security.
  • Learn if there are any technical problems that are negatively affecting how Google perceives your website, and if you are subject to any Google penalties
  • It gives you competitive intelligence to not only your site, but also your competitors sites and what they are doing well or poorly as opposed to your online marketing efforts, so you know if you should be focusing on local search to start or a more national level
  • It lets you know what specific steps you can take to improve your domain authority.
  • Provides a report on your top keywords and how high up on Google and Bing you rank as opposed to your top 3 competitors in your local area.
  • You will get a better understanding of how you can improve your website’s ranking on the popular search engines.
  • Provides the information you need to plan and execute the ideas of getting more people to click on your site from the search engine and increase traffic, thereby increasing sales.
  • You can improve your sales, conversions and leads through SEO audit report.

The bottom line is that without a proper SEO audit you do not know what you are doing well, and where your website and digital marketing efforts are falling short.  More importantly, a solid SEO audit report will give you specific action steps you can take to improve your online presence.  If you would like to learn more about search engine audits for your own company, you can follow the above mentioned steps or even easier, use a free SEO Audit Tool.

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How to Evaluate Who You Should Hire for Your SEO Needs?

making a business deal - shaking hands

Businesses today are inundated with unsolicited offers to help them get more leads, and land more sales though online marketing companies and search engine optimization consultants. You probably receive dozens of these types of emails and phone calls every week. Let’s say that you have decided you do need help and would like to hire an expert to help you with your digital marketing. How do you go about determining who is a good vendor to work with and who is just going to take your money and provide no return on investment? There are a few factors that you really need to consider, outside of just price, and where their websites rank on Google. The following are a few of the key factors to consider.

The first question I would ask is what specific SEO strategies they will implement on your website. This is critical because transparency is essential when dealing with web marketing. There is no secret sauce that cannot be disclosed, and if an agency does not want to tell you exactly what they will do, how will you ever know if there efforts resulted in gains, or even if they have done anything at all to justify their bill. In addition, there are certain things that can harm your website ranking, such as reciprocal links (offering to link to another site, only if they link to you).  Also, adding a bunch of keywords to your pages that don’t make sense or hiding those words with white text on a white background.  This shows that the agency is using either outdated or “Blackhat” techniques that at best will only result in short term gains and ultimately will fail.

Social signals have become a huge factor in Google and Bing’s ranking algorithms. Meaning how your company engages with its audience on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc., and how many reviews of your company are found on Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare can impact your rankings. As such, you should ask, what social strategies the company will use for SEO. Will they create content to post on Facebook and Instagram and will they boost those posts to try to get likes and shares? Will they engage your followers to provide reviews?

Being found locally on Google is so important for mobile searchers.  You need to know if an search agency has a strategy to come up on the maps when someone searches for your businesses service and city location. Not appearing in the first 3 listings under the map would mean losing visibility and business from your local community. Ask if “Google Places” is part of their strategy and if so, how they optimize your local listing.

Noting is a guarantee in life and being #1 on Google is no different. With that in mind, ask if they guarantee #1 ranking on Google for any of your competitive keywords. If they say yes, then they are likely going to buy the keyword phrase for short-term proof, but once they stop spending money, you will lose your ranking.

What type of reporting will you get from your SEO agency?  As I said before, transparency is critical and if your agency does not have some way to show you the results and trends of keywords, clicks to your site, and where people are coming from, then how do you know if you want to continue with the marketing campaign.  Often, a good search agency will also provide you with a unique phone number for your social media and SEO efforts which can be tracked.  This way you know exactly what traffic is contacting you directly from their marketing efforts.  Most successful agencies will have a dashboard you can log onto 24/7 to let you see real time reports and results pulled directly form Google Analytics.

Finally, and although not critical, I would ask what industry blogs and websites they stay current with. Most good SEO analysts will follow search engine journal and search engine watch religiously to keep up with the latest SEO, social media and pay per click strategies and major algorithm updates.

At the end of the day, you will have to gauge the credibility of these answers and compare them to other SEO vendors, but at the very least you will be armed with information and be able to ask the questions that need to be answered.

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Why Mobile Search is Important to Businsses

mobile search

More and More people are searching for goods and services on their cell phones and mobile devices. Google knows this and as such will present different results when someone is searching on their phone and on the road based upon their actual location as opposed to at their home or work. With this in mind, businesses need to be mindful of how their website responds to different screen sizes and how its location schema and other mobile signals might effect its ranking on Google, Siri and other voice searches.

infographic on mobile search

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Why Real Estate Agents Should Have their Own Website

Real Estate Agent Avatar

When looking for homes, people surf the internet for real estate information. In past years, people surf for properties on their desktops, on maps or drive around to look for vacant residences. However, today, you can search for houses on your smartphone on the go because of the massive adoption of the mobile internet in the real estate industry. In order to generate interest in homes, real estate agents need to have and improve their online presence by having their own website. Most importantly, they must harness the SEO advantages of responsive web design to be found on Google and Bing.

With multitude of agent competing in for their own share of the real estate market, it may be hard to gain the attention of potential clients. In order to thrive, you must find a way to effectively market yourself. If your market strategy includes sending bulk emails, placing newspaper ads or even craigslist, you need to think twice because they are obsolete.

Reasons to have your own website

Brand yourself

Stay out of the fray in the competition, you don’t just want to be another new face on a corporate website, like Century 21, or Remax. By hosting your own website you are establishing your own online brand because your website is the reflection of your services, authority and goals. Both home buyers and sellers want to work with someone trustworthy. Information from the National Association of Realtors states that 64% of sellers and 54% of buyers found their agent either from a referral or stick with the agents they have done business with before. One of the SEO advantage of responsive web design that you can be found on a Google search for your name. With solid SEO and a responsive website, you can rank high on real estate related searches on mobile and PC. It is the ultimate referral!

Be the number one support for your clients

It let your clients know about you and the services you offer. A website is a great place for the buyers and sellers to learn about you and affirm that they made the right choices by choosing you as their realtor. Providing home buying information and tips, information on loans and resources like mortgage calculators will increase the value of your website. It makes your website the first choice for support for your clients.

Become the local real estate agent

Another SEO advantages of responsive web design is the ability target specific geographic areas. If there is a specific area of a town you want to focus on, it can be easily integrated by implementing targeted keyword in your website contents and other SEO strategies, such geo-targeting title tags. When potential buyers search for real estate in your targeted location, there is a great chance that you will pop up on their search result.

Build your network through blogs

Creating a blog page on your website will definitely help your attract an audience. This would be great way to showcase your knowledge of the industry, build your trust and improve you readership. With a blog section, potential clients can also connect with your by asking questions which builds your relationship with them. You can also link your blog to your social media pages like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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VRG is Google Analyitics Certified

Certified Google Analytics

VRG Web Design is proud to announce that our Senior SEO Analyst, and founder, Michael Goldstein has passed Google’s certification exam for Google Analytics.  Let Michael and our team help show you data from all channels that are directing traffic to your website, including:

  • Organic Search (search engine ranking)
  • Paid Search (pay per click)
  • Social Media
  • Referrals (Whomis sending trafic to your site)
  • Direct Traffic

Being able to monitor all the platforms allows you to review what is working well in terms of advertising, and what isn’t. Having all the data in one place makes it easy to compare the different channels. If you are currently putting money into your SEO, PPC, or Social Media Marketing, you can monitor your ROI. Perhaps you need to find out how you can maximise your social media strategy. Or your PPC campaign is not performing as well as you thought. A look at metrics like bounce rate and time on page can show you if you need to  improve your landing pages and get a better return on investment.

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The SEO Advantage of Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design concept

Gone are the days when the internet and mobile devices were seen as innovation. Today, they have become the norm.
Why go for Responsive Web Design?
Before now, most users accessed the internet from their computers alone. Recent statistics has revealed that in the past few years, there has been a shift towards the use of mobile devices in accessing the internet. I was amazed when I read the news recently and discovered that over eighty percent of internet use and webpage visits emanate from mobile devices. Besides, even those who use computers in accessing the internet, go on to use mobile devices later on to access the same webpages, especially when they are outside their home or office – the mobile phones and devices come in handy at all times.
Understanding Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is a means by which a web page is built to have a responsive reaction to several devices – mobile devices – whether mobile phones, Android OS, IOS, I-Pads, tablets, and so on. All of these devices and operating systems have varying screen resolution and sizes. The ability of a web page to be dynamic enough as to meet all these changing needs of devices is a result of proper Responsive Web Design.
Search Engine Optimization and Responsive Web Design
Search engines arrange and sort their web page listings in reaction to user preference over time. Some search engines like Google have come to appreciate the fact that most internet users are accessing through mobile devices. In a bid to give such users optimum satisfaction, the search engine will sort web pages that are well optimized to give the best quality access on mobile devices, paying close attention to the Responsiveness of the Web Design. Suffice this to say that those web pages that are Responsive to change in device and resolutions will be better optimized by the search engine.
Remember that the user’s preference is a determinant factor in the Search Engine’s optimization and preferential sorting of web pages. Where a web page is not able to give a user good quality access to information over mobile devices, users are not willing to stick around such web page for long. Such web page will end up losing popularity on the Search Engine Optimization index.
Best Choice for Web Page owners
As a web page owner, your success is determined by the amount of traffic that flows through your web page on a regular basis. Responsive Web Design will help you much in this regard. When users are able to access information on your web page from all sorts of mobile devices, with the image quality remaining the same, in the right size and proportion, and the web page is easy to read, understand and appreciate – adjusting font and size according to varying devices – you can rest assured that users will have a great sense of satisfaction and more traffic will flow through your web page. By applying Responsive Web Design, you will have succeeded in improving your web page traffic flow and in the same vein increase your Return on Investment (ROI).

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Facebook Reviews are the new backlinks

5 star online user reviews

Third party reviews are now being viewed by search engines such as Google and Bing as the most important feature to ranking and have taken over that top spot from back links. This makes online feedback and evaluations such as Facebook reviews  as critical to your local SEO strategy as getting other websites to link to you with great anchor text. More specifically, according to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Local business reviews are more important than ever.  93% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day according to consumer review survey. Think about it, if you want to know where to go to eat for dinner in a new town, what would you do?  You would probably ask people on the street or friends who have been there what they like. Well, social media makes that even easier with third party validation. Which is why 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

In the past, a link from a third-party site was considered a vote of importance and based on the anchor text, relevant for your site. However, with so much gamesmanship going on and the ability to buy your way into local directories, or even pay a website owner for a link on their resources page, search engines now look at inbound links as not as trustworthy as they once were. In fact, the trust factor for reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook coming form consumers is the most important thing you can have, if you want to show up in the Google Local Pack (top 3 on the map).

When you search for a specific business on Google, there is now a box on the right side of the results page that gives you information about the company including pictures, times the business is open and most important, highlights of consumer reviews posted by verified customers, which shows you how many Facebook and google reviews have been posted.

So what is the takeaway from this blog post? Make sure that every time you perform a service or sell a product for someone, ask them to review your company on one of the big 3, Facebook, Google, and Yelp. A great way to do this, if you sell online is to even set up an email automation campaign upon completion of the sale to request that review.

If you need help with this or just want to get more information about how social media can impact your SEO efforts give us a call or shoot us an email today, or better yet, post your comment on the VRG Facebook page.

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Checklist for a Local SEO Audit

checklist for SEO Audit

Most businesses thrive on traffic both online and in person from Google, Bing, Yelp and Facebook searches. In fact, with voice search becoming so important many businesses will only get visits if they appear in the top 3 local searches on Google, when someone searches for “keyword near me”. There are plenty of SEO company’s out there who for a fee will help you achieve better results. However, before you even get to that point, there is a lot you can do yourself to determine what problems may have and how to fix these on your own for better ranking in the search engine results page (SERP). Below is a checklist to help you audit your own website for SEO challenges.

  • Does your website have any broken link;
  • Does your website have Title Tags on every page
  • Is your name, address and phone number listed on all major directories and is it listed properly
  • Does your website load faster then other sites?
  • Does your site have any coding issues that Google may not like;
  • Has your content been duplicated anywhere else on the web;
    • – If your content is used on multiple sites, then search engines try to determine who was the original author and give priority to that site.
  • How many inbound links does your domain have?
    • is a website that allows you to see who is linking not only to you, but also to your competition. This is very important because links from other websites to yours is one of the biggest factors search engines use to decide how relevant you are for your key words.
  • What are other people saying about your company with social media reviews.
    • – On of the most significant types of links is reviews on Google maps, Yelp, Facebook and others such sites. Google provides a free tool to track whenever your name is indexed on a new page or post.

[schema type=”book” axbaxa_name=”SEO Audit” axbaxa_author=”Michael Goldstein” axbaxa_published_date=”2017-09-15″ axbaxa_ebook=”yes” axbaxa_description=”A checklist of tasks and free online tools to perform an audit on your website’s search engine ranking potential” ]

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How To Increase Page Load Speed In Word Press Sites

website on cafine

One of the key factors that Google has acknowledged as part of their calculation to rank websites in their search results page is how fast a site loads. Additionally, from a user standpoint, which Google bases many of its algorithms upon, the faster a web page loads the more likely a user is to interact with the site. As you can imagine, if a site takes 5 seconds to load every page, a user is not likely going to continue to wait for new content and will simply seek the information or application somewhere else. In fact, there is a direct correlation to slow loading pages and the increased percent of visitors to a page that exit the website. As evidence of this fact, a study by Akami found that around three-quarters of web users would not return to a website if, in their experience, it took longer than four seconds to load.

If you would like to get an idea of how slow or fast your website loads both for mobile and desktop use versus that of your competitors, check out Google’s page speed test. Google will even give you a few suggestions of things you can do to improve your web page loading speed.

In addition to the technical suggestions Google provides, there are some obvious techniques that have been discussed ad nosism on all the major SEO forums, such as reducing the size of your images and video or use a hosting company with more robust bandwidth. However, I want to discuss an often overlooked but so simple tactic for WordPress, edit your plugin strategy.

WordPress is a great platform for functionality because of the use of so many free plugins that allow users to add rich features to their site such as maps, contact forms, e-commerce solutions and so many others. However, often a website owner will download many of these plugins, activate them and never use them. In other situations, the plugins will be activated but the functionality provided will not really benefit the user and as such, every time their web page loads, the server needs to process a whole bunch of useless code that slows down a site.

There is a simple solution to this, which is to conduct an audit of your website plugins and determine first, if there are plugins that you are not even using. If this is the case, you can deactivate them and or delete them from your server. You also can search the WordPress plugin directory to find plugins that may provide the same functionality to are much more efficient, for example a caching plugin such as swiftlite works very well. Finally, you want to analyze whether the plugin is really helping you, or if it is simply slowing down your page.

One way to determine how much time it takes to load a page per plugin is to simply deactivate each plugin individually, then run the Google Seed test and see if there is an increase in speed. If you have a plugin that provides functionality that you really need, you can always download 2 or 3 others that do the same thing and test your page loading speed with each and then test the functionality as well to see what makes the best user experience.

If you would like more information about how to better optimize your website don’t be shy and give us a call today.