Penguin 3.0 release

Is your website compliant with Google’s new Penguin 3.0 update?

Last month, Google rolled out its latest algorithm update, Penguin 3.0, with the main objective of cutting the amount of spam on the Internet to make the search experience better for users.

Penguin 3.0 marks the fifth update to the Penguin algorithm, originally released in April 2012. Search Engine Land deemed this update the latest Penguin release as “one of the most anticipated algorithm updates in Google’s history.”

The Penguin algorithm is in place to decrease search engine rankings of sites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using “black-hat SEO” tricks that manipulate links, solely to  increase the ranking of its website. Google launched Penguin to catch and punish sites that are spamming the search engine and reward sites that have valuable, relevant links. Sites that are in violation of these spammy, manipulative tactics and unnatural links to increase rankings — Google identifies these sites as “webspam” — will be penalized. Sites with webspam will see a drastic reduction in their visibility in search results, clicks and web traffic.

Google notifies a website of its bad links through Google Webmaster Account, and if sites don’t heed these warnings, they will likely suffer the consequences when new Penguin updates roll out. These websites will be flagged, and will indefinitely suffer a lack in traffic to their website until it is cleaned up and a new Penguin is released. Violators caught with the previous Penguin update, released in October 2013, will now be able to see if the changes to their spammy links paid off in increased traffic to their site.

Although Penguin 3.0 will only affect 1% of search queries, you may be curious to see if it has affected your website traffic. Follow these steps to see if you may be hurting or benefitting from its release. Check your analytics…

  • Did you notice a significant drop in traffic after Penguin launched on October 17? You may have a Penguin problem. Read on…
  • Is traffic about the same? You should be safe!
  • Have you seen a spike in traffic? Congratulations! Penguin is working for you — perhaps rerouting some of the traffic that could have been going to your competitors’ page and directing it to you.

If your site falls under the latter two categories, you’re following Google’s guidelines and are avoiding spammy SEO. But if you are seeing a decrease in traffic, it may be time to clean up your site and nix the spammy links.

If its time for a cleanup, start by verifying your Google Webmaster Account. Chances are, Google has sent you warnings about spammy links on your page, but if your account is not set up, you may have been missing the warnings.

Have you been hit by Penguin 3.0 and need help recovering? We can help you rebuild your site to bring in leads and new customers that also complies with Google’s Webmaster guidelines.

The shift from SEO to Inbound Marketing

We’ve been living in a world where SEO dominates the marketing scene. It’s all about picking the right keywords to get the search engine to rank a company as high as possible in search results, making it look like the authority on a particular topic. But lately there’s been a need to shift away from SEO and toward inbound marketing. From using multiple devices to changing the way we phrase things in our search, search engines are becoming increasingly intelligent so they can keep up. Google, for instance, pulls information on the searcher’s location, preferences, and search history to get the best search result possible. But these personalized search results edit_findinhibit accurate SEO reports. Not to mention that SEO can’t tap into mobile apps and select content based on the user.  Google took it one step further when it rolled out its Hummingbird update last year. This algorithm makes it easier for Google to interpret conversational language, helping the search engine understand the intent of a given search rather than interpreting just a series of words.

Typing a simple question into Google’s search bar will tell you just how far the search platform has come. Translating words, giving facts and answering questions directly in the results page eliminates the user from having to click on the link for a website. If one searches a specific question, such as the best restaurant in his area, will Google will answer his question by ranking results based on the highest ratings and reviews. In addition to changes in the way we search eliminating the use of SEO, pay to play is dominating the web now, making SEO a less productive strategy.

Search engines like Google and social media sites such as Facebook benefit from showing ads, and companies benefit from getting clicks on these ads.

When you have high relevancy and great targeting with this valuable content, you please both ends.

So what does this mean for the future of marketing? Simply put, your business should adopt inbound marketing techniques and focus less efforts on SEO. There’s no longer a need to select keywords that “trick” a search engine to rank your website higher than the competitor in search results.

Why switch to inbound marketing?

Switching to an Inbound strategy can be highly advantageous to your brand because, first and foremost, it draws people into your brand. Whether people are drawn to your company via social media, a share from a friend or coworker, or through your own site, you’re bringing consumers to your website and social media sites organically, thus driving traffic and producing leads.

Producing rich, quality content on your outlets builds expertise and trust among your consumers. When people find value in your content, it leads to shares. This link building can lead to professionals in your industry sharing your content on their site. By using your knowledge and expertise to write quality content, build a helpful website, and interact on social media, your consumers will find more value in your company than your ability to manipulate a robot to bring your website to the forefront of searches. Leverage your content marketing, PR and social to get your SEO value without relying just on search engine optimization. Ultimately, having a strong Inbound strategy will help to find and convert leads and keep your current customers happy and loyal.


Want to focus more efforts on Inbound Marketing? Check out our Inbound Marketing capabilities and we’ll work together to create a powerful plan to bring in new business.

Should you buy great Search Engine Optimization?

I get maybe 20 emails a day from outsourced search engine optimization (SEO) firms claiming to that they can get me #1 for a variety of keywords. They then go into letting me know which Keywords they can get me ranked highly for.  9 out of 10 times these keywords are already keywords I rank #1 for. What does this tell me? it tells me that a lot of the companies providing SEO are liars. They run a script for a specific keyword, pull everyone on the lower page 1 and on and send them a spam email telling them they can get them ranked for keywords, and then attach keywords related to the one they searched for. The truth is  correctly done SEO takes time.

But what if you do not have that time and you want to come up #1 right now? Can you afford to buy your great placement?

The answer is sure, but you have to find out if it is worth it, because in some cases your customer acquisition costs are just too high compared to traditional forms of advertising, that is just the honest truth. In the long run great SEO is essential to making your new customer acquisition costs go lower and lower, but until that day you have to fill up the appointment book, right?

First off what would be a successful campaign for you? You have to know the answer to this question, so that you can say I can spend $_ or every new lead you get me. I am talking about people wanting your product or service and being willing to pay for it not just tire kickers.

For instance, factoring in the time of your marketing firm and the actual cost per click (CPC) of your campaign you might pay $15-$25 per lead (Assuming a $500 spend). The crazy part is though that the more you spend on your ad budget the lower that $ gets. Since for the most part your firm retainer fees are fixed. You will normally negotiate a rate to setup and maintain your ad spends and the firm will take it from there. If your budget for clicks is not high enough you still have to pay the firms cost to setup, maintain and edit that campaign.

What if you took money from other things and at least in the short term diverted it in to a larger ad buy? What if you went from spending $500 a month on digital ads to 4k? Do you think your management would go up that much? The answer is probably no, or at least not by 8 like your spend. You would be be paying around $15-$25 when you spend that $500, but when you jump to $4k you spend $5-$7 per lead. (On a 4k spend you are looking at roughly 1,000 new leads depending on your market and offer.)

Obviously this depends on if there is the demand for your product or service in your area. If you are a Bee herder then you probably will have a hard time maxing out a 4k budget, but any firm can work with that and get you into a plan that makes sense $ wise.

So to answer your question, yes it will be expensive, but how much are you willing to pay to be slammed with new leads & business?

SEO Tips and Techniques

SEO Tips To Work Into Your Strategy

SEO or search engine optimization is a funny thing for many reasons:  one reason being, because it’s an ever changing beast and another, because it’s fine line to walk. There is such a thing as over optimization that search engines will frown upon. If caught using black hat SEO techniques, your site could drop in ranking for a very, very long time. But that’s not what I wanted to dwell on. Here are some SEO tips and tactics we’re employing for our clients and what we think are some important SEO tips and tricks:

Authorship: This is about the written content on the site. While keyworded content was the way of years passed, authorship of good content is the way of 2013. Heavily keyworded pages that sound awkward aren’t the goal here. It’s about shareable, interactive, engaging and informative content that is authored, or tracked back, to a person within the company. It increases credibility of the content and makes it more personable.

Local sites: For brands that include localization, SEO and social strategy intertwine on this point. By claiming all your local pages and being active you can increase their placement within search engines, which benefits you. Think: Google local, Yelp, Foursquare, etc. You should have access to these sites and have a pulse on what’s being said on the networks like: what the reviews look like, responding to positive and negative reviews, uploading pictures, updating information, AND ensuring the website listed on these sites is your correct website.

-Shareable content: There’s a lot to be debated about content that popular vs. content that correct; meaning, just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s the best content for the search term or keyword. We think striking a balance is the key to an SEO strategy.  This means that heavy SEO should be balanced with engaging, shareable and interactive content. Include shareable and engaging content in conjunction with SEO friendly content. If you have pages that users find more interesting and engaging, use that to your advantage and include that page or that content in your strategy. Not sure how to do that? Click here.

-Responsive design: This isn’t a direct SEO technique, but the user’s overall experience on your website does help you with your SEO strategy. Responsiveness of a website speaks to a web design that works well and is appealing on all devices: mobile, tablet and PC. If a user can’t navigate your site on their mobile device or tablet, you risk them clicking away to your competition.

-Diversity of content: This isn’t specific to this year’s newer techniques, but we think it will become even more important. Do you have a strategy for creating varied content that is multi-purpose across platforms? Posting the same content on your website, Facebook, Google+ page, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, etc. is a waste of content. Of course there are exceptions to this, but the general idea is to vary the content you’re producing or changing up how it’s presented and having a clear strategy for where and how content is used.

-It’s not just about Google: Other search engines are gaining momentum and to overlook them and their users would be a mistake. Working SEO strategy on these is just as important. And don’t forget, even Youtube is a search engine. Click here to read about how to optimize your Youtube videos.

What new SEO tips and techniques have you noticed making the biggest impact on your sites?

Optimizing Youtube Videos For SEO

Creating video content is only the first step to maximizing it’s benefits: optimizing Youtube videos take it to the next step.

Did you know that Youtube is actually a search engine? Most think of it as just a video hosting site, but its search function is just as important as the ability to store and host your video clips. These clips can be tools to drive traffic to your site and create a more robust search and social marketing strategy.

However, the key to your videos ranking well and assisting an SEO strategy is optimizing Youtube videos properly.

On-Page SEO for optimizing Youtube videos:

1-      Title and video description
The title of the video should be engaging and interesting but it should also include keywords that you’re targeting. Some search engines, like Google, shorten titles with more than 60+ characters, so be sure to get a keyword in within the first few words to make sure it counts.

The description should not only describe the video and what’s going on in the video, but also also use keywords. This is fine line. Don’t stuff the description with keywords, but use them as naturally as possible. You can also add more relevant, or secondary keywords, in the description. Be sure to also include links in the description, but make sure to do so in the beginning since only the first few lines are initially visible when your video url is loaded.


2-      Tags
Just like on a web page tags should be included with each video uploaded. It’s ideal to include 4-8 relevant keywords as a tag. When a user is searching for videos, Youtube complies a list of “related” video content that you might be interested in viewing. This related content is comprised by using tags in videos.


Off-Page SEO for optimizing Youtube videos:

3-      Inbound link
The easiest way to get an inbound link to your Youtube video is to embed it on your website. You should also share the video on Facebook,  Twitter and your other social networks.


4-      Popularity
The more popular video, the higher it will rank on Youtube. The more comments and likes it gets the higher it ranks. Created engaging content that makes people want to interact.

Creating the content for Youtube is just the first step. To get the most out of it, you need it optimized to it’s best. If you have questions about optimizing Youtube videos tweet us your questions @219Group.

Email, Social, and Mobile Are Marketers’ 2013 Budget Priorities

Email, Social, and Mobile Are Marketers’ 2013 Budget Priorities

Read more:

If you didn’t know before, well now should be the time to listen to what the others are putting their money into in 2013. Most businesses large and small are going to take most of the marketing budget viral this year. Email, social media and few other places are going to grow in the world of advertising. This shouldn’t be a shock to many as the Facebook has a population of almost one billion people. The target audiences are the main users of college students and recent grads, but now it’s not just your high school of college buddy on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Your grandma and her bridge buddies are also using these sites to stay connected to family and friends. While many people are making changes in the way they live with getting rid of cable TV, internet costs are still low and social media sites are still free to use. So why not put more money into something that millions will see instead of a small age group at certain times of the day!

Almost 56% of marketing executives plan to beef up their viral ads and spend even more on social media sites. This shouldn’t be any stunning news to the world but for those of you who think that Facebook, Twitter and other sites like these won’t make you money, that no one pays attention, you might want to think again. This is the best place for customers to tell everyone what they think of your product and business, word of mouth isn’t just passed on the street anymore. It’s now passed by a few comments from ones experience with your brand or company. When you are active in the community, even online people see you are one of them, and that you care about the product, the company and the customer.

The top 4 areas that many will use in 2013 will be Email Marketing, Social Media, Mobile Devices, and SEO. Direct mail, and many tradeshows and events will take the back seat this year as the cost on those is larger than to the ones like email and social media. Take a look at what others are doing online and don’t’ be the last one to jump into SEO, and social media. Make 2013 a year for you and make sure you stay in the game.

Blog ideas: what to say

We hear this a lot: I’d like to start a blog for my business, but I don’t have any blog ideas.  And while many businesses are too tied up in operations to continuously blog ideascontribute blog ideas, your site’s blog definitely shouldn’t be pushed to the back burner (don’t worry, we can help you).   Here’s why: nearly half of US companies use blogs for marketing and companies that do experience more than double the web traffic to their site.   But maybe you don’t need convincing, you just don’t know where the start.  So… even if you don’t think you have any blog ideas, here’s a list to kick off your blogging adventures.  Keep in mind these are just a few blog ideas.  Add your own in the comments section below:

-Make a list: create a list of tips and tricks (kinda like this one) highlighting something related to your industry.

-How-to: publish a how-to guide on something within your industry.  Are you a Real Estate Agent? Post how-to stage a house in less than 30 minutes, or how-to maximize your time.

-Pictures, pictures, pictures: take some pictures and then write about them.

-Answer questions: when you’re talking with colleagues or friends, what type of questions come up? Ask them and answer them in a blog!

-Tackle a common problem: again, think about that time when you’re with your colleagues and friends.  What issues come up for all of you and how do you handle them?

-Tag team it: get together with a trusted friend or colleague and brainstorm together on the above topics.

-Personal anecdote: nothing’s better than telling a personal story.  Back to our real estate agent example, I remember a few weeks ago, when 219 Group was speaking to a group of real estate agents about marketing practices.  One agent raised her hand and asked if she should post pictures of her open house events and the best way to do that: as a one time picture or as an album.  We suggested that on the day of the event post a picture a few hours with the time and location information.  Take pictures during the event.  And post an album after it’s all said and done with the rest of the photos.  By posting pictures continuously during the event, she risked lowering her EdgeRank… learn more about that here.  Wait a minute, we’ve nearly turned our personal anecdote example into a personal anecdote blog…

Have more ideas?  Add your blog ideas to the comment section below:

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