Friday, October 20, 2017

The Fool’s Gold of Online Marketing

When presented with an online marketing product or service, it may seem attractive on the outside but, is it really worth it or are you being fooled? In this article, we detail the distasteful tactics used by many other online marketing companies to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses.

This is America and as an American business we believe success is not just our own but that of our nation. Success is not measured by the wealth of few but instead by the well-being of each employee, our customers, and community. We cannot forget our fellow Americans. That is why we are committed to the true American way of doing business with fair and honest practices.

Misinformation: Falsehoods, inaccuracies, deceptions, myths, or lies… False information by any name is still false and, unfortunately, it has become copious in today’s digital world. Businesses should keep in mind that pretty presentations and featured reports are not always evidence of a company’s abilities or success. Before hearing a pitch, its best to know a little about what the numbers mean and what realistic results are.

One term that is sure to come up when discussing SEO services and website rankings is “keywords” or “keyphrases”. These are words or phrases that a business wants to rank for. For example, a keyword for a plumbing company could be “plumber” or “toilet repair” and the goal is to have the business website display within localized Google results when these terms are searched for by a consumer in their target areas. All of this is related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which can take up to 6 months to begin producing results.

Some organizations will attempt to deceive consumers with misleading ranking reports. They may say something like a business has 1,000 keywords ranking on the top two pages of Google, which can sound great. But, what are the keywords and are they worth paying for? Many times unrelated, uncompetitive, and/or outrageously long keywords are used to inflate positive figures on a dishonest report. Back to our plumber as an example, the phrase “best plumber in the Southside of Charlotte at 1111 SE 1st AVE” should not be included in a ranking report nor should a business be paying to rank for it. Think, what are the chances of someone typing and search for that exact phrase in Google or any search engine? Also, be wary if the company is unwilling to share a list of the keywords correlating to their report numbers.

Like with many industries – banking, insurance, manufacturing, and others – there is only so much you can know before buying into a product or service. Sometimes that means putting a little faith in a company. At Leads Online Marketing, we know in our hearts that every day we do what is best for our clients because their success is our success and that type of relationship cannot be based of falsehoods.

Quantity over Quality: Quality keywords are not the only things to look into when choosing an online marketing service provider. Internet marketing can incorporate a wide variety of services including but not limited to website design and management, email and pay-per-click advertising, and social media. However, as with keywords, there can be a quantity over quality issue.

Google has always said that websites should have “relevant, quality content” to rank in its search. This rhetoric is supported by Google’s endless efforts to update its search algorithm in order to improve results (and profit). This is why it is so important, now more than ever, for a business to produce quality content across the web starting with the main website and blog. If your web pages and blog article consist of a few hundred words or less, chances are it won’t rank well. The same goes for websites with repeating and low-quality written content.

Business owner should also avoid buying into social media scams such as “instant 5,000 followers” commonly seen on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. These offers will seems enticing but there is no quality to the follows you will receive. This is because the accounts are often fake and equate to no real gain for the business; they won’t engage the business or its posts, they aren’t real people so they cannot suggest friends to the business or call for services themselves. The same concept applies when paying for website traffic. Yes, you may get the amount of traffic you paid for but are those visitors staying on the site, are they buying anything, will they come back or call?

Promoting Like its 1997: If someone’s sales pitch includes website Alexa Rankings or Google Page Rank (PR) Scores, then their marketing strategy may be stuck somewhere between Steve Jobs return to Apple Computers and the publication of the first Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". Yes. It has been that long!

Plenty of fun and great memories were made in the 90’s. However, the fact is innovations have made many products and services from that time obsolete and very much ineffective. Only companies that continue to train, research and innovate, like Leads Online Marketing, will have the ability to produce real results.

Guaranteed & Immediate Results: When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), results take time. It can take up to a month for a single effort to be seen by analytical tracking systems. This waiting period can be nerve racking for some anxious business owners who are paying a monthly bill for marketing, and it’s understandably so. This makes the alternative seem all the more appealing but do be warned, ‘fast results’ fade even faster.

Companies guaranteeing fast results are likely using ‘black hat’ or 'grey hat' tactics that can easily cause your business to be penalized by Google and other online authorities. This is not something to be taken lightly since those authority are the key to your business’ online success.

Competency: Can they do it? Will they do it? When? Of course the company you hire for your business online marketing needs has to be able to do the job they promise to do. They also have to be able to communicate effectively with you, your staff, and any other companies working on your behalf. In some cases for example, a website manager or managing service provider needs to collaborate with the SEO specialist in order to achieve the best results for their mutual client. If one is not responsive or refuses to collaborate, it will be your business that suffers the most.

We hope this article can help businesses big and small to avoid wasting their valuable time and money on products and services that “look” promising at first but, end up being worthless after all.  If you would like us to take a look at your current marketing programs and website give us a call at (704) 612-2442 or, fill out the contact form here to send us a message. We would also appreciate your feedback about our blog and website.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What's Happening Around North Carolina: July 2017 Edition

Here’s the latest buzz on what’s been happening in Charlotte and elsewhere in the Carolinas…

Charlotte is Getting a Dose of Kittens & Caffeine

Yup, you read that right. Charlotte, NC is becoming the newest addition to the US's collection of over 20 cat cafes. The owner of these cafes, Lori Konawalik, a wedding photographer and mother-of-three, is very happy to have her business making its way to Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Mac Tabby," as it is called, is a one-of-a-kind cafe that offers a relaxing area for people to mingle both with each other, and with cats, while getting their favorite drinks and listening to live music.
The café is expected to open up sometime this fall in the NoDa area of Charlotte.

Bigfoot Creates Big Laughs in Catawba County

Imagine seeing Bigfoot as you are driving down Startown Road in Maiden, NC. Eerie, right?
Well, that is exactly what's been happening in Catawba County, where a 7-foot tall half-ape, half-man "Bigfoot" has been frequently spotted. Although many locals know the monster, they have no idea as to where he came from.

This prompted WBTV to don their investigation caps, who later found out that "Bigfoot" is actually just a plywood cutout that has been painted black, made by a fun-loving local Morris Isenhour, who lives around a mile away from the "monster's" frequented spot.

People don't seem to mind Bigfoot so much though; in fact, many actually like being chased by him!! This friendly neighborhood monster makes for a fun selfie photo if you happen to spot it.

Slow Yet Steady

You all know about 2016's historic North Carolina wildfires. However, you may not know that those blazes almost destroyed an entire animal species. All of the noonday globe snail's only known habitat, a two mile section of a Nantahala river valley, had been devastated by fire which placed this already federally threatened snail on the brink of extinction –Or so it was thought.

During the spring following the wildfires, extensive surveys conducted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist revealed that some young snails actually survived in the original known habitat of the Nantahala Gorge. Even more surprising, the freshwater snail were discovered in previously unrecorded areas, showing that their range had expanded.

One biologist, Jason Mays said that although some snails did die, there was not dramatic change in the overall count of the species. This goes to show the power of nature, and how the seemingly destructive force like fire can breathe new life into the forest.

A Charlotte French Favorite adds New Location

If you are already a fan, you will be happy to learn that the 6th Amelie's Cafe is all set to open on Park Road. The French Cafe, which is famous for whimsical-yet-comfortable décor, such as creative fireplace mantles, striped blue-color walls and pots-and-pans chandelier, will also be adding a USB enabled outlets for a laptop bar. This convenient amenity allows guests to easily work while they are in the dining area.

The cafe will be offering its trademark sweet and savory items such as the colorful French macaron and pressed sandwiches, fresh soups, and others. Meanwhile, beverage options range from coffee and tea to beer and wine.

Google's YouTube TV Comes to Charlotte

This is being considered great news for TV buffs in Charlotte, NC. Google has launched its YouTube TV service in the city’s metro area. The service, which targets the budget-conscious family and millennials, will allow access to 6 accounts per household.

In addition to over 50 networks (FOX, CBS, ABC, AMC, and the like), YouTube TV will feature a cloud DVR that provides limitless storage for users. Furthermore, there will be no contract commitments for the service, which means that customers will be able to cancel (or join) any time they want!

This has been an interesting development in the city in addition to Google's fiber service, which was introduced in parts of Charlotte the summer of 2016. In addition, a promotional location called a Google “Fiber Space” was created in the Queen City’s downtown area within the specially refurbished walls of the Dixie’s Tavern.

New NC Island Bears New & Dangerous Discovers

North Carolina's Outer Banks just got a brand new island, and it is unlike anything ever seen before.
This area of the coast is used to seeing new sands make rise as the turbulent chill waters of the southbound Labrador Current crash into the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream. However, this most recent formation, nicknamed “Shelly Island”, is quite rare for its size. Almost a mile long, the crescent-shaped spit of sad looks comparable to a football field.

According to Danny Couch, local tour guide, historian and lifelong resident of the neighboring Hatteras, the new island is a "hoss." While he said that it wasn't anything totally new, it was most certainly the largest island he had seen in his lifetime.

The poet might say that ‘a moon has come up in the Graveyard of the Atlantic’ – a fair and ominous message to those wishing to visit the new island.

For the second time in one week, an unexploded World War II-era ordnance was found washed ashore Friday on Shelly Island. The potentially lethal discovery promptly lead to the subsequent evacuation of the area including public beaches.

An ordnance disposal team later removed the ordnance.

The new and ever popular island is a magnet for anglers and shell collectors, but Shelly Island has proved to be dangerous in many ways and that includes getting there. Officials have urged members of the public ‘do not attempt to swim or walk to the island’. Aside from the area having a history of washed up, unexploded WWII bombs, the surrounding waters have become abundant with tiger sharks and other potentially dangerous marine life. In addition, the area between the island and the point is often run over by a strong and wide rip current.

Big Changes Planned for RAD of Asheville

Anyone who would walk by Lyman Street in the River Arts District of Asheville today would see the street-art and graffiti-covered crumbling warehouses and perhaps feel sorry for what was once there. David LaFave, however, has a very different opinion to offer.

According to the Stoneyard apartments developer, that place has unbound potential. He sees it as an affordable artist studio space, a management office and a restaurant.

Lafave is the managing director for AltInvest Partners LLC, which has developed a 133-unit apartment complex at 175 Lyman St. - right across from the old 12 Bones. Along with Charlotte-based partner developer Gingko residential, it plans to develop another 4 buildings which would house single and double-occupancy units.

LaFave, however, is very interested in maintaining the warehouse aesthetic of the area and to that end, wishes to construct the building with brick and steel. Additionally, he also plans to raise the buildings 14 feet above land grade to keep away flooding issues, and constructing parking spaces between the buildings and underneath the raised struts.

Local residents, artists and fans of the graffiti gardens, as expected, have expressed strong reasons why they are either for and some are against the redevelopment project. Once the project receives City Council approval, construction would be expected to start in April 2018.

Here at Leads Online Marketing, we do our best to stay current and involved in our community and good causes across our great nation. Help us out by suggesting volunteer opportunities for our team and audiences as well as local stories we can share. We hope you give us the opportunity to prove ourselves as a great online marketing company and neighbors you can trust.
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Social Media Saw Some Big Changes in 2016

Many of us would say 2016 was, well, quite the year to say the least. In many ways it was a tremendous year for change. With so many new things having been introduced, it should be no surprise that innovations were also made in social media. This is an industry that must keep up with the fast growing demands of online users and online marketing companies in order to survive.

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Research has proven social media to be a major source of news and entertainment for many Americans as well as users across the globe. As the number of users continues to increase, social media platforms seem to constantly be planning, developing, and implementing new website designs and features. Some, of course, are better than other. In this blog, we will explore some of the changes made in 2016 to the most popular social media sites.

Just as it has been in prior years, Facebook continues to be one of the most popular social media networks in the world. In fact, it boast nearly 1.9 billion unique users each month. That is almost a billion more than YouTube. As they sometimes say, “the bigger you are the harder you fall” and even though Facebook has not fallen they have certainly hit their fair share of bumps in the road to site redevelopment. However, the typical personal user was likely unaffected by those hiccups and only took notice of the site’s improvements. Advertisers may not have been so lucky.

For Facebook page admins, the glorious day finally arrived in 2016 when the profile picture was moved aside the cover photo. In the past, page cover photos had to compensate for the overlapping profile picture and overlapping tabs but, no more! Other changes on Facebook pages include the location of the tabs, introduction of a username, additional post styles and post call-to-action buttons. Overall, the appearance of both pages and profiles has changed for the better in 2016.

Another major social network worth mentioning is Google. Yes, Google is a social media network too and more specifically Google Plus (Google+). Google accounts tie together many different Google products including but not limited to Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Hangout, YouTube and Google+. Most of these products had an update in the past year.

Google+ is where the biggest change occurred with a complete overhaul of the site. For most of 2016, as changes were still being made, user had the option to Switch back to Classic but, no more. One thing Google+ Profiles and Pages both lost in the update was the ability to display multiple tabs. The main tabs that used to be available were “Post”, “Reviews” and “Videos”.  Now user only have a main page that displays posts and an about section.

Other social media networks that implemented some big changes last year include Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. As the world continues to develop and technology becomes more a part of our everyday lives, social media networks are sure to be working hard to keep up, especially with each other. Not only are they trying to keep the regular user satisfied, social media networking companies must also appease those marketing on their sites. In the meantime, we will be here to observe, share and utilize the innovations to come.

If you are a small business owner, it is important that your business be seen online. As we mentioned before, consumers now more than ever rely on the internet for information. That includes information about your business.

Not sure where or how to get started? Simple visit our website and request a meeting to learn how Leads Online Marketing can help your business stand out across the website. We can even help you setup and maintain social media for your business.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tips to Make Your Site More Eco-Friendly

The Web utilizes huge quantities of energy. A single search on Google apparently uses the same amount of energy it would take to boil one cup of water. Fortunately, the web is gradually becoming more eco-friendly. The difficulty is this means various things to various individuals. As more methods to lighten your website's environmental footprint are found, it ends up being increasingly hard to select the mix of actions best for your products and services.

There are a good deal motives for making your website go green. These vary from economical to moral. Given that not all energy eco-friendly, we all have a commitment to go a bit greener. In this article, we explain a few of the options available to make your website design greener.

Cause Marketing

Obtaining subscribers, followers and return viewers can be challenging. One way to both make your site more eco-friendly and encourage website visitors is to integrate the two by using an eco-incentive. This could be as easy as planting a tree for each customer or offsetting a provided quantity of CO2 for each Facebook page like.

To plant a tree for a subscriber, go to the Arbor Day Foundation. To offset carbon emissions for every subscriber, visit the Carbon Fund web site. We encourage you to explore each website to see how best to get involved. Be innovative, consider little yet significant action you can perform in return for receiving more customers on your website.

Spread out the Message

Regardless if your blog is about the environment or the stock market, you have the power of knowledge. You can encourage users to take steps to decrease their effect on the environment, to set their office to be more energy-efficient, and lots of other tips.

The following websites are terrific references to environment-friendly living suggestions that you can hand down to your subscribers:

Keep Your Design Practical

Each server request takes energy on both ends. The larger the action, the more energy consumed. Simple designs can be elegant and effective. You can likewise reduce your website's energy usage by publishing less images with lower resolution, using less JavaScript widgets, and utilizing less resource-intensive innovation, like Flash. This will reduce load time and server requests.

Streamlining your website is not only eco-friendly. It is also user friendly. Some of the most popular blog sites have really simple and user-friendly styles.

Tone Matters

Various amounts of energy are used to display colors on a computer screen. The older CRT screens used more energy to display lighter hues such as white (which could explain black style of some DOS programs). Meanwhile, the more recent more recent LCD monitors use more energy to show dark tones like black.

Because of the extensive use of LCDs, the darker the hue of your website, the more energy it will eventually utilize. Designing your website with a great deal of white space may be practical. Each page load might only conserve a small amount of energy, over the long-run, it will add up.

Whichever combination you choose, guests will value your ecological efforts. None of these efforts will alter the world alone, but every small step matters. It is approximated the Information Technologies industry creates about 2% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. That is equivalent to that of all airlines around the world. If all of us change our habits a little, in the house and in the office, the impact will be considerable.

If you are in need of a new website for your business, Leads Online Marketing LLC can help. We are confident our web designers and developers will build a good-looking, efficient website that will satisfy your wants and needs. For those business owners wishing to be as eco-friendly as possible, we can consult you on the best ways to achieve this for your website and online marketing strategies. Better your brand with a call to Leads Online Marketing today!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mobile Responsive Web Design

Just this week Google made a important update and has shifted the importance of mobile website design to epic proportions. With so much of the world having already gone mobile, there’s a need to accommodate web users on the go. Responsive website design is the best answer.

Incorporating responsive website design takes precise coding, which maximizes a user’s viewing experience. The majority of business owners are busy running their companies and don’t have time to learn complex coding languages. Consulting with a professional online marketing firm in such matters is the best way to stay on top of your online presence and make sure you are following all the rules for Google's best practices.

Responsive web design provides the following benefits:

Better User Experience

Arriving at the desktop version of a website on your mobile phone can be very frustrating. It also makes for a less than fulfilling user experience. Websites can now be designed to adapt to Mobile, Tablet and Desktop as well as major browsers like Google's Chrome, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox. Flexibility is another benefit as users are able to view content on different devices, screens and resolutions with ease.

Google Rewards

As of April 21 of 2015, Google now rewards mobile friendly sites and also penalizes sites without responsive web design. Rankings will also improve with responsive web design because they will have a matching URL and the exact same HTML across every platform. Google has cornered the market on web searches so when Google adjusts its ranking system, it is wise for advertisers to take notice.

Easier Manageability

Websites that have separate versions, mobile and desktop, have to establish SEO in two completely different ways. SEO tactics that work in the mobile world are very different from the ones used on desktop versions. With responsive web design, keywords and content which are specific to mobile formats can now be included and optimized accordingly with one single site and domain.

More Conversions

It has been proven through the use of Google Analytics that websites with responsive design have better conversion rates. The reason for that is there is less of a bounce rate as users tend to stay on this type of site much longer. It is also more cost effective as there is no need to invest in the design and SEO of different devices

The question is not why should you choose responsive website design, but why haven’t you chosen it already? Leads Online Marketing LLC in Charlotte NC has the experience and skill to turn your site into a whole new form of marketing, following Google's best practices, with expert responsive website design.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Core Principles of Online Marketing

I have been in the internet marketing field for 15 years and if there is one thing I have learned, it is that you must follow two fundamental rules to be successful marketing your company (or website) online. Online marketing is constantly evolving but these two staples will always remain strong.

 Rule 1

First, we need to make our customers happy. We need to offer them a easy way to access the information they are looking for whether looking for services they need or products they want to buy. Effective website design needs to function successfully on all available devices and platforms; including mobile phones, tablets and PC as well as browsers like Google's Chrome, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox. With all the new technology in wireless communications it is imperative for us to have our message clearly displayed at all times.

Rule 2

The second rule we need to follow to be successful online is to keep Google happy. I don’t know what search engine you use but according to searchenginewatch “Google holds a staggering 67.6 percent of the U.S. search engine market share” and goes on to say that “Bing remained a distant second with 18.7 percent”. This, I believe is well deserved because simply put, Google brings back better and more relevant search results.

My personal opinion puts Google above all the competition on almost every search. When using other engines, I always feel like the results are not as tailored to my searched keywords and phrases. Google has figured it out; they know that if they keep users coming back to them every time they are looking for a product or service that they will continue to make over a billion dollars a week! That’s over five million dollars per hour according to MOZ.

Keep Google Happy - Don’t take shortcuts

I often see people finding new ways to rank at the top of the search engines using any means possible. Here is the problem, you have some of the smartest people in the world working for Google, so much so they are making movies about getting a job with Google! How long do you think it will take for them to figure out the next best shortcut? What we have seen recently when they do see too much manipulation with results is a software or algorithm update. 

They are usually named something cute like panda, penguin, or hummingbird but will you still think it is so cute when your site is penalized? Most experts are now saying that if your site gets one of these penalties you are better off starting over with a fresh URL and clean content. Every year you hear about a new animal joining the Google Zoo. My advice is to stay off the radar. If you are going to do your own marketing then be sure you avoid the shortcuts or use a reputable company.

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