Managing Your Reviews and Reputation While Remaining HIPAA Compliant

Online reviews remain the single most influential way for patients to voice their opinions of your medical practice. Whether true or false, these opinions will be raw, unfiltered, and emotionally driven. They will gravitate towards being high praise or strong disapproval. Your reputation as a healthcare provider hinges on these reviews and your responses to them. 

While many business owners have the freedom to respond to reviews however they see fit, healthcare providers have their hands tied by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Such was the case when a physical therapy office was fined $25,000 in 2016 for posting testimonials on their website without patient consent. We’re here to tell you how you can manage your reputation and craft review responses while remaining HIPAA compliant. 

What Is Protected Under HIPAA?  

Briefly, HIPAA protects “protected health information” (PHI) which relates to “the individual’s past, present, and future physical or mental health or condition, the provision of health care to the individual” and anything that pertains to payment information. Altogether, there are 18 identifiers that indicate when patient information is considered PHI. 

Bottom line: Avoid responding to reviews with information that can reveal a patient’s medical history or medical payment history. No matter what information they divulge in their review, you cannot respond in kind. Above all else, avoid using their name in conjunction with confirmation that you provided them with health care services. 

“How Can I Possibly Respond to Reviews?” 

Keep it anonymous. Keep it general. If the review is positive, a simple thank you will suffice. If the review is negative, again, thank them for taking the time to post a review and offer a phone number they can call to further discuss the issue. Negative reviews may be extremely biased, but people trust them nonetheless. You won’t have the flexibility to solve problems online, so your goal is to take the conversation offline. Only then can you offer a detailed, comprehensive solution to the patient’s grievance. 

Here’s a great example of a HIPAA-compliant response to a positive review: “Our practice strives to provide each patient with the outstanding service and attention they deserve. We love hearing success stories. Thank you for the recommendation, and we wish you all the best! Sincerely, Dr.                and team.” 

Here’s an appropriate response to a negative review: “Thank you for the feedback. It is our hope that every patient leaves our care having had their medical needs met and exceeded. Please contact our facility at XXX-XXX-XXXX with any questions or concerns.” 

Here’s what to avoid: “Dear Mr. Roberts. It was our pleasure to see you this past Tuesday concerning your intestinal surgery. Thank you for your positive review and recommendation!” 

Not only does the above post include the patient’s name, but it also includes information confirming their medical history, including confirmation of their visit, the date of their visit, and details of the patient’s treatment. 

Whether Positive or Negative, Respond to All Reviews

Now that we’ve discussed HIPAA compliance, it’s time to touch on how your reviews should be managed. We recommend responding to every review you receive, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. By doing so, you can mend fences and further build a rapport with your patients while showing potential patients that you are serious about providing the best health care experience possible. 

Your goal is to maintain a trustworthy persona that your patients will recommend online as well as to their family and friends. Only then can you build your online presence, manage your reputation, and attract patients that would have otherwise never trusted you with their health and wellbeing. 

Maintaining Compliance and Your Reputation 

When you take into account reviews across Google, Facebook, Vitals, Healthgrades, WebMD, and other review platforms, managing your online reputation has never been more of a challenge — a challenge you must face nonetheless. Patients are oftentimes blindly trusting of online reviews. They may not know the people leaving reviews, but they value them nearly as much as personal recommendations, sometimes even more so.

Don’t allow your reviews and reputation to fall by the wayside. The only way to dominate your local market is by taking all aspects of your online presence into account.

Are you unsure of how to respond to Google reviews? Don’t have the time? Keeping up with reviews and crafting responses can be a time-consuming challenge. Proper review responses can help you maintain relationships, attract new patients, and grow your business. At LEVERAGE, our experienced team can provide the support you need to ensure that patient reviews are responded to in a timely and HIPAA compliant manner that both improves and extends the patient relationship.

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Why a Mobile-Friendly Website is Essential to a Successful SEO Strategy in 2019

Surprisingly, many organizations still don’t have mobile-friendly websites despite there being over 5 billion unique mobile subscribers worldwide. Usually, they are reluctant to invest because they lack resources or don’t see the value. If your organization falls into this category, and you would like your brand to remain relevant on the most widely used search engines in 2019—which, let’s face it, is quickly approaching—you need to invest in a mobile-friendly website.

Here are three reasons your organization must have a mobile-friendly website as you gear up for 2019.

Reason 1: Increased Mobile Visits

Now that Google labels websites that are optimized for mobile as “mobile-friendly” within its mobile search results, failing to have a mobile-friendly website can have a negative impact on your website’s click-through rate (CTR).

Think about it this way. If a user performs a search with their mobile device, and four of the top five results have a mobile-friendly designation, if all other parameters are equal, the mobile user will give preference to the four results that Google identifies as “mobile-friendly.” This results in a greatly reduced number of click-throughs for websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile while simultaneously stimulating the volume of click-throughs for websites that are.

Fortunately, Google provides a tool that allows website owners to test if their website is mobile-friendly. If a website passes this test, it will receive the mobile-friendly designation.

Reason 2: Higher Mobile Rankings

Google already penalizes websites in mobile search that are not mobile-friendly to ensure that websites that have been optimized for mobile devices rank higher. The world’s most widely used search engine is dedicated to improving the experience of surfing the internet, which is why mobile optimization is so highly coveted. Since 2014, mobile-friendly sites have been steadily increasing in ranking while others have been demoted to search engine results pages (SERPs) that rarely see human eyes.

Consider this quote from the Google blog post that announced the new “mobile-friendly” labels:

“We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.” This announcement was made in 2014. Four years later, Google’s dedication to mobile-friendly websites has been unwavering, and mobile optimization has become the foundation of a successful online presence.

Reason 3: Increased Revenue From Mobile

If increasing rankings and click-throughs to your website don’t provide enough incentive to invest in a  mobile-friendly website, hopefully, lost revenue is. Lacking a mobile-friendly website at a time when so many users are turning to mobile devices to find the products and services they need is essentially forfeiting customers over to your competition.

The bottom line is this: without a mobile-friendly website, your organization is already losing revenue. Consumers are becoming less and less willing to put up with poor user-experiences on their mobile devices. If your organization fails to adapt to changing expectations, you will fall by the wayside as your prospective customers seek out the path of least resistance to an improved user experience. Typically, this path will lead them straight to your competitors who have invested in a mobile-friendly website. If you want to continue growing your business in 2019, a mobile-friendly website is crucial to your ongoing success.

Conclusion

Ensure that your organization has a successful SEO strategy in 2019 with a mobile-friendly website. Your organization will benefit from more click-throughs, higher rankings, and most importantly, increased revenue.

Mobile phones possess nearly all of the functionalities of a desktop computer, so it comes as little surprise that more and more interactions are taking place on mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you risk missing out the important micro-moments that drive potential customers into your marketing funnel. At Leverage Digital, our creatives work side-by-side with our web development team to craft award-winning websites that feature superior performance on displays of all sizes.

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The Limitations of Free SSL Certificates

You’re probably aware of the importance of installing an SSL Certificate on your website, but shopping for one is a daunting task. If a business resists utilizing an SSL Certificate, their site will be flagged as “not secure” by Google. This causes your business to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

SSL Certificates come in a variety of flavors, but the most important characteristic to consider is whether you want to invest in a full-fledged, paid SSL Certificate or go for the free alternative. As long as you utilize a reputable provider when acquiring your SSL Certificate, your site should meet the requisite benchmarks for security. However, there are still numerous, considerable differences between paid and free certificates.

Whether you opt for a free SSL Certificate or a paid one, the level of SSL encryption will remain largely the same. Free, cheap, and premium SSL Certificates are generally issued with 256-bit certificate encryption and 2048-bit key encryption. Plus, free SSL Certificates, such as those provided by Let’s Encrypt, are trusted by major internet browsers. Unfortunately, that is basically where the similarities end. Free and premium certificates will give your website the “lock” of assurance that reminds users that browsing your site is safe, but if you want your current and future customers to be fully protected when interacting with your site, you should consider the limitations of free SSL Certificates.

Domain Validation Only

Validating your domain gives users peace of mind when browsing your site. It also prevents malicious sites from replicating your domain and deceiving users. Due in part to their limitations, free certificates can be issued almost instantaneously, but faster isn’t always better.

On the Let’s Encrypt FAQ it states: “Let’s Encrypt offers Domain Validation (DV) certificates. We do not offer Organization Validation (OV) or Extended Validation (EV) primarily because we cannot automate issuance for those types of certificates.”

If you plan to collect personal information from your customers, relying exclusively on domain validation could put your website’s visitors at risk.  Additionally, paid certificates more readily support One-Domain, Wildcard, Multi-Domain, and Code Signing SSL Certificates.

Inapt for E-Commerce

Does your business utilize its website for e-commerce? Collecting credit card and personal information to process transactions requires a higher level of validation than free certificates typically offer. Paid SSL Certificates allow your business to authenticate itself through Business Validation or Extended Validation. Domain validation alone ensures that the website is encrypted, but it doesn’t guarantee that your users are browsing the correct site. For example, someone can own the URL “amazonbusinesspro.com” without having any ties to Amazon.

Limited Lifetime

Free certificates are typically offered in 90-day increments. In other words, your business will be responsible for updating its SSL Certificate every three months. If you forget to update your certificate in a timely manner, your site will be flagged as “not secure.” Customers who notice that your site is no longer secure may not visit it again out of fear of falling victim to cyber crime. Paid SSL Certificates last significantly longer, generally one or two years, which means your business can focus on generating leads and retaining customers without worrying if your certificate is going to expire.

Lackluster Customer Support

Free certificates don’t have the same level of financial backing as paid alternatives. As a result, when your business is having an issue with its SSL Certificate, the level of customer service will be limited, often lackluster, and entirely deficient of the needs of most businesses. Remember, if your site relies on a website to acquire leads or process payments, a compromised SSL Certificate can lead to stifled revenues and a shrinking customer base.

No Liability Protection

Possibly the greatest strength of paid SSL Certificates is liability protection to guard your company against any damages that occur as a result of a hack or data breach. This warranty can be valued up to $1,500,000, which alone justifies the average cost of a paid SSL Certificate. You never know when your site could be attacked, so it’s important to have your bases covered with a paid SSL Certificate that gives your business strong liability protection.

Free vs. Paid

Like the popular idiom states, when it comes to SSL Certificates, you “get what you pay for.” If you still aren’t sure whether or not your business should be utilizing a free or paid SSL Certificate, consider contacting a digital marketing agency like Leverage Digital. Our customers are automatically equipped with free SSL Certificates while we help them determine which type of paid certificate is best for their business. Although you can save money by opting for a free certificate, you can’t go wrong with a paid one.

At Leverage Digital, we take the guesswork out of growing your business, but we can’t accomplish this goal without securing your website against malicious online attackers, data breaches, and hacks. That is why we recommend that all our clients—current, future, or otherwise—are equipped with paid SSL Certificates. Not only do these certificates protect your customers from more threats, they ensure that your customers trust you and continue to utilize your products or services in the future.

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Micro-Moments and Search

Micro-moments, a concept first introduced by Google, are high-intent, short bursts of activity characterized by consumers who turn to their mobile devices to quickly access information (i.e., watch a “how-to” video) or take action (i.e., find the nearest Starbucks). Marketers must learn how to reach consumers during these high-intent micro-moments by providing their customers with the information they want, when they want it, and in the format most likely to engage them.

How Search Influences The New Customer Journey

The customer journey has become a nonlinear path of micro-moments that ultimately lead to a purchase. Oftentimes, search is at the beginning of this journey, but for higher-consideration purchases, search can also play a significant role in assisting the customer through the middle and even to the end of the sales path.

For example, someone looking to buy a new mid-size SUV may begin their journey by searching “top 10 mid-size SUVs,” followed by a search for customer reviews of the specific mid-size SUVs they’re interested in. This helps them narrow the number of vehicles they are  considering down to a few, specific models. With this information, they will begin their search for the nearest dealerships that sell those particular SUVs so they can test drive each vehicle and make a decision.

In this scenario, the consumer performs three distinct searches to move along the purchase path. This may take place over a few days, weeks, or even months. While there are other influences that may affect the buyer’s decision in this scenario, such as brand reputation or the opinions of friends and family, the buyer’s ultimate decision will be largely based on the information they derive from each micro-moment.

Taking Advantage of Micro-Moments with Search

In order to take advantage of micro-moments, brands must leverage search. Consumers have become accustomed to reaching for their smartphones and searching for answers when they have questions. Brands need to make sure they’re visible in these searches and have the necessary content to answer consumers’ questions.

In order to do this, brands must develop a thorough understanding of the key moments in which their customers make decisions that push them further along the path to purchase. For example, home builders must understand that home buyers want to see virtual tours before visiting a model. Similarly, a hair care product line should know that their customers like to see how-to videos for different hairstyles before buying their hair product. On the same ticket, a car manufacturer knows customers want to see 360-degree views of a car’s interior before taking a trip to the dealership. Regardless of your industry, consider the fact that 69 percent of online consumers’ perception of a brand is influenced by the quality, timing, or relevance of the brand’s message.

Conclusion

Brands that learn how to provide their customers with the information they want in these micro-moments will gain a significant competitive advantage. As consumer behavior becomes increasingly reliant on mobile devices, expectations become greater, and attention spans become shorter, the value of effective micro-moments could be the factor that results in your company clinching the title of industry leader from your competition.

How do your customers experience your brand? Every moment, no matter how big or how small, can leave an indelible imprint on your clientele. There’s only one way to ensure that your business is primed to direct users into your marketing funnel, and that’s through effective and powerful micro-moments. Your brand is constantly vying for business with its competitors, and micro-moments can spell the difference between more conversions or an increased bounce rate. At Leverage Digital, our personable team understands that many agencies lose sight of these important moments, so no matter how large your digital marketing campaign grows, every facet of it will be carefully monitored and analyzed to provide you with measurable results.

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Why SEO Can’t Reside in a SILO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an incredibly effective marketing tactic that can provide great returns if executed correctly. However, SEO is often perceived as a silver bullet for business owners looking to drive traffic to their website and increase sales.

While SEO will do both of these things, it is much more effective when combined with a complete online marketing strategy, because the purpose of SEO is to drive quality traffic to a website.

SEO isn’t responsible for converting traffic into customers, and it isn’t responsible for encouraging repeat purchases. Yet, with complementary strategies in place to achieve these goals, the value of a new lead generated through SEO can be increased significantly.

Let’s explore this further.

The Foundation of a Conversion

SEO success is ultimately determined by conversions, and the foundation of a conversion is a great website that is professionally designed to engage visitors and convert them into a lead or sale, depending on the objective. If you execute your SEO strategy perfectly, but send traffic to a website that fails to convert the traffic it receives, much of that effort will go to waste.

Many businesses invest heavily in SEO but fail to invest in their website because they don’t understand the difference between traffic and conversions. Increased traffic is worthless without conversions. New customer acquisition relies on a combination of SEO and an industry-leading website.

The Value of Your Customer

If you’ve invested in both a great SEO campaign and a professional website that is highly effective in converting visitors into customers, you’re two-thirds of the way there. Now it’s time to retain those customers and incentivize them to make additional purchases or invest in your ongoing services.

Many businesses value a customer based on their initial purchase, but a customer should really be valued based on their potential for future purchases, or their lifetime value. There are a few different ways to determine a customer’s lifetime value. So, let’s keep it simple for the purpose of this example.

If a business makes an average profit on a widget of $100, and on average, a customer purchases one widget per month for twelve months, then the true value of that customer is $1,200. So, in this example, every new customer the SEO campaign delivers is potentially worth $1,200, or 12 times more than their initial purchase. So how will this business encourage the customer to make those 11 additional purchases with them, rather than with a competitor?

Encourage Repeat Purchases

Social media and email marketing are excellent tools for encouraging repeat purchases. Having a strategy in place for acquiring your customers’ email addresses and incentivizing them to find you on social media is key and will amplify the overall effectiveness of your SEO campaign.

The customer in the previous example isn’t planning to buy another widget for a few weeks, but it just so happens that the business in this example is having a sale that’s too good for them to pass up and is leveraging email marketing to promote the sale. During their initial purchase, this business was savvy enough to incentivize the customer to subscribe to their email list in return for receiving 10 percent off their next purchase.

The result? This business verifies that their email marketing strategy is increasing customer participation and encouraging customers to make a repeat purchase. As a result, the business doubles the value of any customer who engages with the sale being promoted through the email marketing campaign.

Lead Nurturing

In addition to encouraging repeat purchases, social and email marketing are also very effective at nurturing leads that an SEO campaign delivers, but may not have converted on the first visit. When prospective customers are still in the research phase, it’s important to stay in touch with them, so that your business is top of mind when they finally do decide to move forward.

Again, this increases the overall effectiveness of SEO by converting a lead in the future that may otherwise have been lost.

Conclusion

By combining SEO with a great website and effective social and email marketing, your business will benefit from a complete online marketing strategy that drives traffic and leads to increased conversions. By embracing this holistic approach to online marketing, you can significantly improve the value of both new leads and new customers, thus resulting in a better overall return on your investment.

SEO is a powerful tool for improving your brand’s visibility online, but you can’t rely solely on SEO if you want to dominate your competition. At Leverage Digital, our team considers your specific needs and objectives to develop a digital marketing campaign that helps your brand grow and flourish. Every brand is unique, and your marketing efforts should reflect that.

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5 Critical Questions About SSL Certificates

Google is done playing games when it comes to online security. The internet is often compared to the Wild West because it seems like there are no rules or limitations keeping it under control, but that is quickly changing.

The good: improved security means more trust. When people don’t have to worry about their passwords being compromised or their personal information falling into the hands of fake collections agencies, they’re more likely to utilize the internet as a customer.

The bad: if your website isn’t currently utilizing an SSL certificate, your rankings have already dropped and you run the risk of being labeled an untrusted website.

The ugly: purchasing an SSL certificate is more confusing than it should be, and if you try to fix the problem yourself, you could find yourself falling into a false sense of security with an SSL certificate that doesn’t meet your website’s standards.

How familiar are you with SSL certificates? If your answer is not very, don’t worry; you’re not alone. We’ve compiled the five most important questions about SSL certificates for the uninitiated.

What Is An SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is a small piece of code that can be installed on your web server to improve the security of your website and protect online communications. When a web browser connects a user with your secured website, the SSL certificate encrypts the connection to ensure that personal information is safe. You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate by determining whether or not it has “https://” before the URL. If it does, the site is safe for browsing. On the contrary, “http://” websites are not secured with an SSL certificate which means users’ information is not necessarily protected.

An SSL certificate ensures that malicious users can’t gain access to your information or usage data. It’s like sealing a letter in an envelope before mailing it; you’re submitting information into an external system, but it’s protected from other entities in that system.

Why Are SSL Certificates Important?

SSL certificates are important because the information you send on the Internet travels from computer to computer until it reaches the destination server. Without the encryption provided by an SSL certificate, any computer between you and the server can access your credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other types of sensitive information. When your business welcomes customers to your site without an SSL certificate, your customers can be exploited for valuable information. With a new wave of data protection policies on the horizon, ensuring that your website protects your customers is imperative. An SSL certificate will ensure that you serve customers effectively while minimizing the possibility of litigation.

When Did SSL Certificates Become Important?

SSL Certificates have always played an important role in providing users with a secure connection, especially for e-commerce; however, they have recently started to play a larger role in SEO rankings and paid advertisements in Google. Websites that do not possess a valid SSL certificate are being flagged as “not secure” by the search engine giant. This warning can derail your business by effectively  terminating web traffic. The average user isn’t going to trust a website that is labeled a security threat by Google, which means all of the progress your business has made from SEO and other online marketing strategies will be rendered inconsequential. Therefore, if your website does not currently possess an SSL certificate, it’s integral that you contact a digital marketing agency to help you sift through the SSL marketplace to find the certificate that is right for your business.

How Do SSL Certificates Affect My Website?

Having an SSL certificate can have an effect on search engine results page (SERP) rankings, visibility, and perception among customers. In 2014, Google announced that having a secure site would be an important factor when ranking websites. While studies vary in terms of how significantly this factors into ranking, our agency’s internal studies have noted a positive increase in rankings among sites that have been converted to https://.

Previously, Google has stated that in instances where there are two sites of identical value, they will give preference to the site with an SSL certificate. This is evident in a recent report from Moz that states that 40% of Google’s first page organic search results are from https:// sites.In terms of customer perception, a report from GlobalSign states that 84 percent of consumers would end a purchase if the site was not secured.

The lack of an SSL certificate will now be more visible than ever. In addition to Google’s “not secure” warning , their browser, Chrome, has started using an exclamation mark in the address bar to alert users that they are on a site that isn’t secure.

How Much Do SSL Certificates Cost?

The value of SSL certificates is undeniable, but figuring out the most cost-effective and secure option can put your business at odds with itself. SSL certificates range in value from free to hundreds of dollars. However, not all SSL certificates are built the same, and depending on the size and type of business you oversee, your SSL needs will vary.

You might be inclined to perform a quick Google search to weigh your options, but shopping for SSL certificates isn’t like shopping for televisions. Investing in the wrong SSL certificate could have extensive legal and financial ramifications later on. Free SSL certificates, like those offered by Let’s Encrypt, are an effective stopgap solution while considering your options. However, if you want to eliminate worry and ensure that your website maintains its current rankings, you should invest in a paid certificate that offers liability protection, multi-domain certification, superior server compatibility, and more.

Are you working with an award-winning digital marketing agency like Leverage Digital to ensure that your site is secure for your business and your customers? SSL certificates are here to stay, and without one, your business risks losing out against your competitors. Online security is critical to the success of your business, so don’t let your website get flagged for lacking adequate security measures. Contact our agency today to find out how you can get the right SSL certificate for your business today!

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Dominating Your Niche on Google

Typically, dominating your niche on Google yields extremely profitable results. This is not only because ranking well for keywords related to a specific niche helps drive higher quality traffic to your site, but also because it differentiates your brand.

Follow these five steps to dominate your niche on Google.

Determine Your Niche

If you haven’t already, the first step to dominating your niche on Google is determining what it is. The more specific your niche is, the better.

Your business may offer many different products or services, but what is the one product or service your business is known for, or you would like to be known for? That is the niche you should choose to dominate on Google.

Depending on your competition and resources, it can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to dominate multiple niches on Google. So, it usually makes sense to focus on one niche.

Let’s take for example, a law firm that specializes in personal injury law, but also practices criminal and family law. Ideally, this law firm would love to dominate Google for all three areas of practice. However, unless they’re willing to invest the necessary resources into developing three separate websites and managing three separate SEO campaigns, this would be very difficult to achieve. Because the firm in this example has limited resources (as any business does), they would have a much greater chance of achieving success by focusing optimization efforts on personal injury law, since that is their specialty.

Why is this? Well, for starters, Google wants to provide users with information that is highly relevant to their needs. When someone is searching for a personal injury lawyer, that is exactly what they want to find. A user will not respond favorably if their search for personal injury lawyers provides results for criminal and family lawyers who also practice personal injury law, because those results are not as relevant to the user’s immediate needs.

Optimize with Niche Specific Keywords

Once you’ve decided on the niche you want to dominate, you must choose the right keywords.

Determining the right keywords to optimize for is crucial. It requires a thorough understanding of your target audience, as well as the keywords they use when searching for your product or service. It also requires specificity. You can’t dominate a niche by going after generic keywords.

Optimizing for keywords specific to your niche has multiple benefits. These keywords will be less competitive, and therefore rank more easily. They will also deliver traffic to your site that is more likely to convert.

Going back to the previous example, the person who searches the keyword phrase, “lawyer + location” is far less likely to convert than the person who searches the keyword phrase, “personal injury lawyer motorcycle accident + location.” The latter search query is indicative of someone who knows exactly what they’re looking for. When that person finds a personal injury lawyer who specializes in motorcycle accident cases in their area, that lawyer will have a great chance of converting them into a new client.

Implement Google Authorship

Implementing Google Authorship will enable your face and name to appear next to your website in the search results. This not only allows users to associate a face with your organization, but also promotes your personal brand by allowing you to appear as an authority within your niche. This is especially powerful for medical professionals, legal professionals, and consultants, where your personal brand is strongly tied to your organization’s brand.

In addition to helping establish trust and credibility with your target audience, Google Authorship may influence rankings now and in the future. Though the specifics have been debated, we do know that Google Authorship can have a positive impact on click-through rates (CTR), because Authorship increases a site’s visibility in the search results. Just make sure to use a professional photo that will be well received by your target audience.

Write Great, Authoritative Content Often

The next step is to write great, authoritative content often, on topics that are relevant to your niche. Writing great, authoritative content serves three purposes.

1. It shows that you’re an expert and a thought leader in your niche.

2. Acts as a resource for potential customers, and gives them a reason to come back to your site.

3. Provides Google with more quality content to index, which can have a positive impact on rankings.

However, when writing this content, be sure to write it for your target audience, and not for Google. You can still incorporate keywords into the content, but just make sure it sounds natural, and reads well.

Conclusion

It requires a lot of time and effort to dominate your niche on Google, but if you do, you will find that your business outshines your competition online and in-person.

With a superior website, comprehensive digital marketing strategy, and a dedicated team like Leverage Digital backing your every move, you can finally achieve the success you have been waiting for. Once you have the power to dominate your niche on Google, your business will be equipped with an extremely effective tool for taking usurping your industry’s throne. Are you ready to become an industry leader?

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

7 Reasons Your SEO Campaign Will Fail and What You Can Do About It

Most SEO campaigns are destined for failure because expectations are too high, budgets are too low, decisions are made based on assumptions instead of data, and customer expectations are misunderstood.

Whether you’re managing a campaign yourself, hiring a so-called ‘SEO professional’, or partnering with an award-winning digital marketing agency like Leverage Digital, you should ask yourself these seven questions to determine if your campaign is on the right track to help your business build momentum for sustained growth in the future.

1. Have You Set Realistic Goals?

Setting unrealistic goals for your SEO campaign, such as dominating Google and Bing for every product or service you offer right out of the gate, will almost always result in failure. Instead, set realistic objectives for your campaign and achieve success incrementally.

For example, most businesses offer multiple products or services. If your business falls into this category, it can be daunting to achieve top rankings for everything you offer. With an incremental strategy, you can optimize for one of your top-selling products or services, and after you’ve achieved success, move onto the next product or service and so on.

Also, keep in mind that a successful SEO strategy can be perceived as unsuccessful based solely on unrealistic goals. This is why partnering with a talented digital marketing agency is vital to the success of your SEO strategy. Without knowledgeable guidance and consistent performance audits, it’s nearly impossible to track the metrics of your brand’s success.

2. Do You Have a Practical Timeframe and Budget?

This is a big one. Most businesses do not have practical timeframes or budgets for their SEO campaigns. They want results immediately, but at the same time, are only willing to make a minimal investment. By consulting with our digital marketing agency, you can determine what a realistic timeframe and budget entail for your business.

The more competitive your industry, the greater the timeframe and larger the budget you should expect. If you go into an SEO campaign with a short timeframe and an unwillingness to make the necessary investment, it will most likely fail because you are not affording your marketing partner the necessary time to test your strategy and make the adjustments needed for a successful long-term campaign.

3. Have You Chosen the Right Keywords?

Optimizing for the wrong keywords is common and often the cause of an SEO campaign‘s failure. Ideally, you’ve hired an agency or professional to manage your campaign and selected the right keywords after performing extensive keyword research. However, if you’ve selected your own keywords based on what you “think” your customers are searching without verifying the results with real data, it’s highly improbable that your campaign is using the right keywords.

If you want to ensure that you’re optimizing for the right keywords, analyze keyword data using a reputable research tool to see what keywords your (successful) competitors are using.

4. Is Your Campaign Delivering the Right Traffic?

If you have failed to select the right keywords, then you’re either not delivering enough traffic to your site, not delivering the right traffic, or a combination of both. A quick sniff test to determine if your campaign is delivering the right traffic is to look at your site’s bounce rate for organic search traffic. If you see a high bounce rate for organic search visitors, then what they’re searching for is not consistent with what they’re finding on your website. It’s important to distinguish the bounce rate for organic visitors from other visitor types (i.e., direct visits, referral visits, etc.) so you can make informed decisions based on your organic search traffic specifically. If you have a high bounce rate for all visitor types, you may have a larger issue to address, such as the design or functionality of your website.

5. Do You Have a Professional Website?

A successful SEO campaign starts with a professional website that engages visitors upon arrival. Visitor engagement is crucial to an effective SEO campaign because engagement ultimately results in conversions, which is how most businesses measure a campaign’s success. The lack of a professional website discredits your brand, therefore reducing engagement and conversions.

Here are some questions to ask when evaluating your website:

6. Are You Writing Content That Your Customers Care About?

A dearth of visitor engagement and the resulting lack of conversions can also be attributed to publishing content that fails to answer prospective customers’ questions. Do not write content simply to appeal to search engines. Have a content strategy in place that answers questions and addresses concerns your customers typically have. Prospective customers will appreciate the extra effort, and they are much more likely to become paying customers as a result.

7. Are You Tracking Data and Making Improvements?

Tracking data and making improvements as needed is crucial to a successful long-term SEO strategy. This can often result in small tweaks that help improve the campaign over time or significant adjustments such as revamping an entire content strategy, or even redesigning a website.

It’s a mistake to simply measure the results of an SEO strategy based on one data point, such as rankings or phone calls. You should look at all of the data collectively to develop a better understanding of how your rankings are contributing to traffic and how that traffic is contributing to conversions. If you look at all of the data points as a system working together, it’s easier to find and fix deficiencies. For example, if rankings and traffic are good, but conversions are lacking, this could be due to poor keyword choices, a poorly designed website, or some other factor that could change the entire nature of the campaign if addressed.

Conclusion

Most SEO campaigns are destined for failure, but yours doesn’t have to be. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you now know where your campaign is lacking and where to focus on making changes. We can help you make those changes.

At Leverage Digital, we help you dominate your brand’s corner of the internet with responsive digital design that outclasses your competition, compelling content that drives SEO and user engagement, and industry-leading web support to ensure that your brand is always growing, day or night. Our holistic approach to marketing allows us to customize a superior marketing plan that helps you reach your objectives while building a solid foundation to drive your brand’s growth into the future.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

4 Reasons You Should Run a Paid Search Campaign Alongside Your Already Successful SEO Strategy

One of the common misconceptions in digital marketing is that SEO and paid search are mutually exclusive. If search visibility is achieved through SEO, why invest in paid search? Although it might seem unnecessary, running a paid search campaign using AdWords can bolster your SEO strategy and ensure that your brand has a commanding presence on search engine results pages. Here are four reasons why using AdWords strengthens your SEO strategy.

Reason #1: Organic Rankings are Volatile; Ad Rank is Not

Organic rankings can be volatile. Unless you work with a proven team of digital marketing professionals and skilled content strategists to continuously produce high-quality content, your rankings could fluctuate unpredictably. One day you’re in the top five for a high-priority keyword, and the next day you’re nowhere to be found. With Google’s constant algorithm updates and user-interface changes, organic rankings have grown increasingly volatile. Tackling these issues alone can be a daunting task.

This is not the case with AdWords. Once you have the right mix of quality score and budget, your Ad Rank (your ad position relative to other ads) is fairly consistent. However, reaching this point can be challenging without the insight of a designated Google Partner like Leverage Digital. Paid search campaigns require a fair amount of work to achieve the right Ad Rank for the right price, but you have far more control over the ranking of your ads than you do over your organic search rankings.

Reason #2: Earn Twice the Visibility

The Google search results pages contain a lot of information, all of which competes for searchers’ attention. So, while being listed on the first page is great, being listed twice is even better, particularly if both your organic search ranking and ad are listed in the top three organic and paid positions.

Furthermore, if your competitors are listed once on the first page for a priority keyword, while you’re listed twice, you have double the visibility and thus a clear advantage if the rankings are comparable.

Reason #3: Increase Click-Throughs

A natural byproduct of increasing search visibility is increasing clicks to your website. Even though clicks are not a measurement of success, they are a prerequisite for conversions.

Google conducted a study in 2012, which concluded that 50 percent of clicks generated by paid ads are not replaced by organic clicks when the ads are absent and the website has a first position organic search ranking. The study also shows that as the organic search ranking decreases, the percentage of clicks not replaced by the paid ad increases. This implies that organic search alone cannot drive as much traffic to a website as organic search combined with paid search.

Reason #4: Increase the Probability of Conversion

By increasing traffic to your site, you also increase the probability of conversions. We have seen increases in conversions as high as 200 percent as a result of combining SEO and paid search. While your conversions may not necessarily increase 200 percent, it is logical that they will increase as a result of higher search visibility and an influx of traffic to your site.

Conclusion

With the right execution, a paid search campaign combined with an already successful SEO strategy can deliver traffic and conversions that you would otherwise miss by relying solely on organic search.

If you want to dominate the search engine results pages, you need to implement a digital marketing campaign that goes above and beyond your competition. At Leverage Digital, we employ innovative digital marketing strategies to help you engineer your own success. Our award-winning agency combines industry-leading design with thorough statistics tracking to ensure your objectives are met with measurable results.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

5 Steps to Execute a Site Redesign Without Compromising SEO

You’ve spent years investing in SEO, and now your brand dominates the rankings, but you’ve neglected your website and now your customers are stuck interfacing with an outdated platform that isn’t even mobile friendly.

It’s time for a redesign.

You’ve probably heard all of the horror stories that tell of disastrous site redesigns killing your search rankings and negatively influencing all the progress you’ve made with your SEO strategy, when in fact, your reluctance to embrace an updated design is the true culprit.

Don’t believe the ghost stories. Let a team of dedicated marketing specialists show you how powerful a well-executed site redesign can be for your brand. Here are five steps to ensure that you are able to successfully execute your site redesign without compromising months or possibly years of investment in SEO.

Step 1: Evaluate Your SEO Strategy

A site redesign is the perfect time to evaluate your SEO strategy and figure out which keywords and landing pages are providing the most value, and which ones are providing the least. This will allow you to assess which keywords and landing pages to prioritize during the redesign.

During this process, you may find keywords that rank well, but perform poorly at delivering quality traffic. These keywords may not be worth including in your post-redesign SEO efforts, which presents a great opportunity to refine the keywords you’re targeting to ones that will drive higher quality traffic to the site.

When evaluating your SEO strategy, you may also find that certain landing pages fail to engage visitors and convert them into leads or sales. We believe a site redesign presents the perfect opportunity to address page level engagement and conversion issues, too.

Ironically, by evaluating your SEO efforts prior to a site redesign, and addressing issues that you may have otherwise overlooked, you can actually end up with a superior SEO campaign once your redesign is complete.

Step 2: Keep the Same URL Structure or Implement 301 Redirects

As it pertains to SEO, it is ideal to maintain the same URL structure when executing a site redesign, but this not always practical. You may be moving the site to a new platform that has different requirements, or you may have reorganized your content, which resulted in changes to the URL structure. In any case, when you change your URL structure, it is imperative that you implement a page level 301 redirect.

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. It helps retain rankings by guiding search engines from the old URL to the new URL where the requested content now lives. 301 redirects also preserve inbound links and internal links, both of which help retain rankings.

Retaining a positive user-experience is just as important as retaining good rankings. By preserving inbound links and internal links, 301 redirects prevent visitors from being greeted with a “404 Not Found” error message when accessing the site through inbound links or navigating the site through internal links that point to defunct URLs.

Step 3: Maintain On-Page Optimization

Maintaining on-page optimization might seem like an obvious step, but a site redesign can often involve moving, revising, and adding new content. All these moving parts can make it easy to forget the basics.

Use this as an opportunity to not only maintain, but to improve, on-page optimization. Start by making sure any keyword changes are incorporated into the appropriate pages. Then, review each title and description tag. Make sure they’re unique for each page, incorporate the target keyword(s) for that page, and accurately describe the content they’re associated with.

Once this has been accomplished, review the site’s URLs and make sure they’re optimized for each page. Finally, check for broken internal links and review all anchor text to make sure it is consistent with any keyword changes that were made in step 1.

Step 4: Create HTML and XML Sitemaps

Create HTML and XML sitemaps to help search engines discover any new or existing content that has moved to new URLs. HTML sitemaps are also useful to site visitors because they help them discover new and existing content that has been relocated.

After creating an XML sitemap, be sure to submit it to the major search engines to expedite the crawling of any new or moved content. This step, combined with page level 301 redirects, will ensure efficient crawling and indexing of your content.

Step 5: Monitor, Measure, Improve

Once the redesigned site goes live, carefully monitor your rankings and traffic data. You can determine whether or not your site redesign was successful and meets your goals by asking yourself questions like:

A site redesign should not be a one-and-done project. Just like any other marketing initiative, the results of your redesign should be monitored, measured, and improved over time, preferably with the help of a dedicated digital marketing agency that is ready to stick with your brand over the long haul. Our agency can help you execute a flawless site redesign without compromising SEO.

Is your website old and outdated? You might be driving traffic to your site, but if the user experience is lacking, you will face a significant challenge when trying to retain the interest of your target audience. At Leverage Digital, we utilize a comprehensive approach to SEO that deftly handles the technical side of SEO while facilitating organic growth by improving the user experience. Your brand is ready to grow. We can help.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.