5 Reasons Local Businesses Should Be Utilizing SEO

It’s no secret that search engine optimization is a very powerful marketing tool in today’s world.  These days, almost every consumer does an online search before purchasing a product, so if a consumer comes across your product or service during their search, it can put you ahead of your competition. Here are five reasons you should be utilizing SEO to reach your local customers:

1. Easy Customers

When your get your business to the top of page one on search engines such as Google.com, Yahoo.com, and Bing.com it puts you directly in front of your target audience.  So if you have the time, manpower, and budget to aim at getting your website to page 1 on major search engines for specific keywords and key phrases, this can result in very easy conversions for your business.


2. Greater Brand Awareness

As a consumer, I can’t tell you how terrifying it can be when you go to search for a business online that you are considering purchasing from and you can’t find anything about them online.  Today, if a business has nothing online that you can find using search engines, that’s a big red flag to most consumers.  Even if you have a Facebook page or Twitter account that shows up in the search results, it’s better than nothing.

3. Low Cost

Search engine optimization is relatively low cost to actually do.  Most businesses (especially small businesses) don’t have the time available or manpower to not only LEARN SEO, but actually perform it on their own business website.  So it’s best to utilize SEO firms either locally or you can easily hire a firm online.  You can easily find a firm online (more than likely a firm overseas) who will charge you anywhere from $200-$900 per month for SEO services and usually they can provide a turn around time of 3-6 months depending on the competition for your key words and key phrases.

4. Get Ahead of Your Competition

Utilizing SEO is a great way to get ahead of your local competition.  For example, let’s say you operate a flower shop in Santa Monica.  If you can get your website to the top of page 1`on Google.com for “flowers Santa Monica”, “Santa Monica flowers”, “Santa Monica flower bouquets” – this automatically puts you ahead of your competition because any time a consumer searches for those key phrases, they are going to see YOUR website first.

5. Hitting Your Target Market

One of the best aspects of search engine optimization as a marketing strategy is the fact that you are targeting your audience HEAD ON.  With other forms of marketing such as direct mail or social media marketing, you market, market, market, with the hopes that you reach SOME of your target audience but wtih SEO, your target audience is in essence, searching for you.

5 On-Page SEO Steps for Your Website

If you aren’t already utilizing the powerful advertising strategy of search engine optimization, now is your chance to learn more about how you can begin a search engine optimization campaign for your website.

The first step is to complete ALL on-page search engine optimization first, and then once that is complete, you can begin the more involved steps of completely off-page tactics.  Here are five steps for you to follow to complete your on-page SEO steps:

Step 1:  Complete Title Tags

While some say that title tags and heading tags are no longer relevant, I’m a strong believer that they can’t hurt your SEO campaign.  So think of keywords and key phrases that users will be searching for in order to find your website.  Use these keywords and key phrases in the title tags, meta tags, and heading tags.

Step 2:  Create Meaningful Content

I’m a strong believer that just because you have an article that contains 27 of the keywords or key phrases for your website, if the article has no meaningful content, then it’s completely useless to the visitor.  You want to include keywords/key phrases (don’t over do it though – include about 5-10 keywords/key phrases per 500 words), and use these opportunities to show off your knowledge in your field.

Step 3:  Utilize Internal Linking

Linking to outside sources is a great way to improve your SEO rankings, but that is an off-page SEO tactic.  One on-page strategy that most don’t consider crucial is to link internally within your website.  This is a great way to improve your SEO campaign.  Link blog posts to other blog posts within your website.  Just ensure that none of the links are broken links, as this will harm your rankings.

Step 4:  Plan a Clean Navigational Structure

You want to aim to provide a clean looking website and that includes having it structured so that the visitors can easily navigate through it.  You want to have a menu at the top that is simple to understand and easy to navigate.  Keep your header menu as clean as possible, and any links that there isn’t room for in the header, you can put in the footer menu.  Don’t forget to create a Google XML Sitemap – VERY important for your SEO campaign and good for navigation.

Step 5:  Always Use Image Alt Tags

Many SEO professionals shrug off this task, but it’s KEY.  Using image alt tags is a huge issue because some visitors who have image-disablers on their browsers won’t be able to view images on your web page – therefore, they depend on the image alt tags to get an idea of what the web page is discussing.

Still not convinced you should be utilizing SEO as an advertising channel for your business?  Check out this blog post, 5 Reasons Local Businesses Should Be Utilizing SEO.

Top 5 Reasons Your Bounce Rate Is So High

Pay per click advertising is a fantastic way to drive targeted traffic to your website fast.  You can target by behaviors, location, and device.  You can narrow your audience down to get the most for your PPC budget as well as track all data such as clicks, timing of clicks, bounce rate, and keywords.  However, there are of course many key factors you need to take into account in order to ensure your campaign will be as successful as possible.  The most common issue with PPC campaigns is the bounce rate, and here are the top five reasons your bounce rates are so high:

Landing Page

Where are you sending your click-throughs?  Are you sending them to an ad-heavy page, a cluttered page, or do you have a clear call to action?  The user clicked on your ad for a particular reason depending on what you put in your ad, they are interested in your product/service or they want to learn more about your company.  Either way, you want to direct the user to a landing page that is 100% related and connected to the original ad.  For example, if you have an ad for discounted tablets, you don’t want to drive the user to a page for “Work From Home Jobs”.  This will cause your bounce rates to spike because that’s not why the user clicked on the ad.  See below for an example of a poorly design landing page.  Why?  Too many images and graphics that draw the user away from the call-to-action.  You don’t want to be using too many images that are all competing for your visitor’s attention.



You need to ensure that where your driving your traffic, it’s visually appealing to the user.  The user has taken the iniative to actually click on your ad, so now you have to keep them on your website for as long as possible with the hopes of getting a new customer.  If your design is poor, content is poorly written, and the information is irrelevant than the chances the user will actually remain on the page are very slim.  One very common mistake among PPC campaigns is trying to have keyword-rich content for search engine optimization purposes, however, if you have too many keywords the content will no longer make sense.  You also want to ensure the wording is easy to understand.  For example, if you are selling electronics, don’t use large jargin words as that will confuse the visitor, you want to provide them information as easily as possible.

Pop Ups

Do not have ads popping up in the users face when they click-through your ad.  Doing this is not only a common spam-alert, but most users find it extremely annoying and will usually exit immediately.  Your main goal should be to drive traffic to your landing page in the hopes they’ll find the content relevant to them; not to spam your visitors.

Hope these tips have helped you!  For more tips, strategies, and ideas on how to optimize your pay per click and display advertising campaigns, check back to LookSmart’s Blog regularly.

Cyber Monday Grows 27% in 2012

Every consumer in the United States may not have participated in Cyber Monday 2012, but they sure did hear about it!  Cyber Monday 2012 was predicted to generate $1.5 billion in sales in the United States.  The shopping extragavanga grew by 30.3% from Cyber Monday 2011.  Cyber Monday 2012 was so large and successful that IBM named it the biggest online shopping day in history.


This year, Cyber Monday beat Black Friday sales by 36%.  According to IBM, Cyber Monday shoppers perfer to use PCs and laptops to do their online shopping, while 18% used their mobile devices to browse online which actually increased by 70% since Cyber Monday 2011.  Cyber Monday 2012 resulted in mobile device sales of 13% which grew by 96% compared to 2011.

Of course, with such a large crowd of online shoppers, brands were pumping out larger budgets in their pay per click campaigns.  However, a few small and medium business owners asked us, “how can we optimize for Cyber Monday success?”.

Our campaign management team here at LookSmart responded with the following tips and strategies:


  • Create a whole new campaign instead of adjusting currently running campaigns.  You can create one or a few brand new campaigns specifically for Cyber Monday which will keep your account cleaner and more organized.
  • Segment your products accordingly and use past data and statistics to determine which products you expect will do the most successful with consumers on Cyber Monday.
  • Offer a deal!  Consumers love nothing more than getting a great deal on Cyber Monday!  Create a deal, coupon code, etc. and use it in your PPC creatives to lure in consumers.
  • Review and revise your negatives list to ensure you aren’t getting garbage traffic that will lower your return on investment.  Black list any keywords and keyword phrases as required.

3 Strategies for Optimizing Your PPC Landing Page

So our last few blog posts have primarily focused on managing pay per click ad campaigns, competitive bidding, and how to optimize your campaign to get the best CPA.  So now it’s time for us to focus on the final step, which is the landing page that the user is taken to, to hopefully convert.

So the user searches for the term “christmas gifts” on Google.com, they see a search ad for “Holiday Sweets & Treats ONLY $49.99″, click on that ad, and are taken to the advertiser’s website where they will hopefully convert by purchasing something.  The landing page can either be the making or breaking point of a successful PPC campaign, so follow these three strategies in your campaign to boost your conversion rates:

1. Keep it Simple

Some campaign managers want to have colors, text, and graphics everywhere – this is messy, confusing, and has proven to be unsuccessful.  When the user lands on your landing page, they shouldn’t be confused; they should see anicely designed landing page with very simple, yet firm, calls-to-action.


2. Don’t Attack the User

I can’t tell you how many times I land on a landing page and get “attacked” by 1-3 pop up ads – PLEASE do not do this strategy.  This is basically attacking the user and from own personal experience, when pop-ups begin coming, I immediately close out of the window, so avoid that potential bounce issue altogether by avoiding pop-up ads.

3. Focus on Your Call-to-Action

The call-to-action is the most important aspect of your landing page.  You need to be firm, yet polite.  You are basically instructing the user to provide certain information so you don’t want to come off as forceful, yet the user also needs to be told what to do.  So it’s best to use a clear call-to-action such as “Enter Your Information Here”, “Enter Your Email to Receive Your Free….”, etc.  You want to tell the user in a firm, yet polite manner what you need them to do.

Hopefully these landing page strategies have helped you, and don’t forget to check out our blog posts at The Lookout and follow us on Twitter!

3 Tips for Increasing Your ROI in Paid Social Media Advertising

We all know how popular social media networking has become and websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are amongst the most powerful networks in the world right now.

These social networks do provide a fantastic environment for paid advertising because they allow you to target by geography, interests, sex, age, and much more.  So if you are considering taking this advertising route, have a look through the tips and strategies below to ensure you are getting the highest return on investment.

Choose the Best Platform For Your Needs

With so many available platforms, you really need to sit down and weight out the pros and cons to determine the platform that you think (based on your targeting requirements) will be the most successful in reaching your target audience.  For example, if you are targeting finance professionals, LinkedIn would be your best option as compared to Facebook.


Target, Target, Target

Once again, the best aspect of social media paid advertising is the almost unlimited targeting you are open to.  You can target by location, age, sex, interests, job, school, and much more.  So ensure you don’t leave your targeting too broad.  Remember, the more narrowed your targeting is, the more likely your clicks will turn into conversions.

Call to Action

Don’t leave the call to action decision up to the user.  You want to ensure your ad has a very CLEAR call to action such as “Click Here”, “Get it Now”, etc.  The user usually wants to be told exactly what to do, so if your ad leaves any questions open, that could risk losing the interest and therefore, the conversion.  Ensure you provide a clear call to action for the user, which wil increase your ROI.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and check back to the LookSmart Blog each week for new blog posts.

5 Strategies Using Twitter to Improve Your SEO

Anyone whose anyone knows about Twitter and the concept behind the social media network.  However, not everyone utilizes this tool to it’s fullest potential.  Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service where it’s users can post up to 140 character status updates, follow other users, and interact with other users by retweeting and replying to them.  However, this social network can also be used to increase your search engine optimization campaign rankings.  Here are five strategies that you can begin utilizing right away to increase your SEO rankings:

Shrink Your URLs

Use a tool such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck to shorten all of your link urls.  This allows you to track what content is generating the most clicks and which posts were the most successful in generating retweets and replies from other Twitter users.


Valuable Content

You only have 140 characters to make an impression on someone with your tweet so you have to ensure that you use those 140 characters as best as you can.  You need to put a call to action in your tweets such as “Retweet”, “Don’t Forget to Retweet!”, or “Please Retweet!”.

Choose an SEO Friendly Username

If your website is BobsPlumbing.com and your company Twitter username is @PlumbingNRepairs – this is NOT good for your SEO rankings.  You should try and find your exactly URL for your Twitter username as this will help people identify your brand better and improve your SEO rankings.

Seperate Personal From Business

I see so many people using the same Twitter account for their personal use AND business use and this just is not the best strategy to use.  You should have your own personal Twitter account that you can post whatever you wish, including your opinions on certain issues.  Then have a seperate Twitter account for your business where you can post valuable content related to your products and services as well as connect with your target audience.

Ensure Your Bio is Keyword-Enriched

You have 140 characters to use up in your bio and I highly suggest you utilize these to the best of your ability.  Use hashtags as well (example #SocialMedia) so your profile shows up in Twitter searches.  You can include a VERY brief description of your business, include your website URL, and then include as many keyword hashtags as you can fit in the bio.

Hope these tips have helped you and if you feel we are missing some, please feel free to comment below.  Don’t forget to “like” us on LookSmart Facebook and “follow” us on LookSmart Twitter.

Also, don’t forget to check out 5 On-Page SEO Steps for Your Website and 5 Reasons Local Businesses Should Be Utilizing SEO

Visit LookSmart at SES

Come visit LookSmart at the Search Engine Strategies in San Jose.  Our team of search marketing experts will be on hand to answer all of your questions about LookSmart’s online advertising services.

For those of you interested in buying advertising to promote your web site, products and services, our account managers will be available to demonstrate LookSmart’s pay-per-click services and to help you optimize any campaigns you are currently running.  We’ll also be giving away $300 in free clicks to new advertisers — our way of standing proudly behind our services.

If you’re interested in becoming a LookSmart technology or distribution partner, we’ll have product experts in the booth to explain how LookSmart’s white-labeled AdCenter platform and create opportunities for you to sell advertising to your own direct customers.  Our technology interfaces with other ad serving platforms to give you the ability to build a business on top of existing programs you may already have running on your web sites.

Stop by and visit us at Booth #114 to find out more!

Allen Hammock
Product Marketing Manager

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Note that afer applying the coupon – on the deposit fund – don’t write any amount and click the submit button. It will charge automatically $50 which is the minimum to get this promo.

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LinkedIn Leak

It’s no secret that LinkedIn experienced a large social network no-no this past week when over 6 million of it’s users’s passwords were leaked out.  It caused a great deal of havoc and anger amongst it’s over 100 million users.


Basically, what caused this to happen is the fact that LinkedIn encrypted the passwords using a SHA-1 algorithm, but didn’t use the proper security techniques that would have made cracking the passwords much more difficult for potential hackers, said Paul Kocher, President & Cheif Scientist of Cryptography Research.  The passwords were obscured using a cryptographic hash function, but the hashes used were not unique for each password.  Therefore, once the hacker matched one hash to a password, that hash would be the same for all other identical passwords.

There is a great deal of highly sensitive information on the social network such as business deals, confidential job information, and personal conversations.

LinkedIn still doesn’t know who was actually responsible for the attack.  LinkedIn is just focusing on ensuring members change their passwords and choose stronger passwords for increased security measures.  However, according to security researcher Marcus Carey, “If a website has been breached, it doesn’t matter what encryption they’re using because the attacker at that point controls a lot of the authentication.  It’s ‘game over’ once the site is compromised.”