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How Do We 'Grade' SEO Success?


Historically, one of the biggest selling points for search engine optimization (SEO) has been that brands with a successful strategy will end up on “the first page of Google.” And while there is, perhaps, some worth to this claim, it’s largely an obsolete idea – to say nothing of the fact that there never really was a “front page” of Google.

You see, today, both searchers and search engines are more sophisticated than ever before. Users are employing more targeted search terms, conducting more site-specific searches, and searching with tools like voice search, which weren’t mainstream even a few years ago. Meanwhile, search engines themselves evaluate sites based on more criteria than ever; Google has also changed the look, feel, and function of its search engine results pages (SERPs) with new features like Featured Snippets and Knowledge Graphs.

What this means, from a practical standpoint, is that different searchers are going to see different SERPs every time, based on a wide variety of criteria – specific search terminology, location, individual search history, and so on.

With this in mind, the “first page” of Google seems like even more of a fairy tale; everyone’s first page – or, more accurately, their initial search results – will be different, every time. So how can you gauge your brand’s SEO success today?

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The Five Most Important Things You Can Do to Get Future Customers to Your Website

Have you heard of Google Panda? No, it's not a mascot. In fact, Panda was a change made to Google's search results algorithm all the way back in 2011, with the goal of helping to eliminate low-quality sites from searches, while having higher-quality sites appear at the top of the search.

Ever heard of it? You’re not alone if you haven’t.

The fact is, Google and its peers in the search engine sector are consistently updating and refining their algorithms and web crawlers, helping redefine the ways in which users search the internet for e-commerce options and content – and how they find their way to your brand.

Whether that means factoring in mobile devices, updating search engine ranking pages (SERPs) with Knowledge Graphs and Featured Snippets, or taking aim against “blackhat” tactics like keyword stuffing, Google has long been a vital gatekeeper for businesses, either helping to guide internet users to your site – or send them into the arms of your competitors.

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3 Digital Marketing Lessons from Santa (and 1 from Krampus)

Ho, ho, ho!

It’s that time of year again. The air has turned cold, sleigh bells are jingling, presents are being put into stockings with care… We could go on, but you probably get it!

It’s the holiday season, which means that the man in the big red coat will soon be flying around the world with his trusty reindeer, delivering presents (and a few lumps of coal) to kids everywhere.

And while some of our adult readers may have stopped believing in Santa Claus, there’s still something about his spirit that’s downright infectious – particularly for digital marketers! Don’t believe us? Well, it’s true!

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Reputation Management for Nonprofits and Charities

There’s an old saying that says, in essence,

“Do good and good will come back to you.”

When it comes to digital marketing for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs, we think that “doing good” should be a guiding ethos.

Whether you’re providing food or shelter to communities in need, raising funds after a disaster, or campaigning for a more just and equitable society, you’re out there changing the world for the better – and your good works deserve to be recognized and amplified.

And, after all, the more you put your messaging out there, the better the chance that you’ll be able to recruit new volunteers, gather more donations, and further extend your reach.

As we’ve discussed before, digital marketing is one of the single most effective ways that you can help spread the word about your organization – and one of the most crucial elements of successful digital marketing for nonprofits and charities is online reputation management.

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Launching a New Website? Don’t Forget to Check These 10 Key Elements Off Your List

Website Launch Checklist

It’s hard to overstate the importance of having a website for your brand. Today, your next customers are connecting with businesses and doing their product research online, via search engines, review platforms, and social media networks - which can all help funnel users directly to your personalized landing page. 

Having a unique, handcrafted website that is functional, responsive, and optimized for search engines can go a long way in helping your business stand out from the crowd. Your brand website is also a powerful marketing tool. It’s your calling card, your elevator pitch, and your sales funnel, all rolled into one. Your website can help your brand reach new audiences on search engines like Google, and help convert curious visitors into lifelong customers. 

If you’re nearing the end of your website design and development process, you’ve probably been over all this - and then some! You’ve talked about design. You’ve discussed creating compelling calls to action and functional conversion tools. You’ve thought long and hard about the importance of UX. 

Now, it’s time to move into the last phase, and start fine-tuning your site so it’s ready to launch. It’s time to look over the little details, to make sure your website is going to appeal to audiences, and rank highly with search engines. Before your site goes live, it’s also important to start planning for the future, and develop a strategy for all of the maintenance, performance, and security tasks to come. 

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The 3 Elements of Web Development (Hint: Don't Start with the Template)

If you're as addicted to caffeine as we are here at Geek Chicago, you already know that a cappuccino is one-third espresso, one-third milk, and one-third foam. It’s that rule of threes that makes this iconic drink 100% delicious. 

Now, we’re not saying that building a website for your brand is just like making a cappuccino. But it is a process that takes skill, experience, and, of course, the rule of threes.

In this case, we know that there are three central elements that go into creating a great website, one that will help you attract and convert customers for years and years. Those three essential elements are:

  • Content
  • Design
  • Template

… and the order that you should prioritize them in may be different than you’d think!

For a Great Website, Don’t Start From a Template

In our experience, many people are quick to jump to that third bullet point, without taking the time to consider the other two.

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5 Things to Consider When Designing Your Website

Looking to refresh your website? Starting a new business and ready to set up your online “forever home?”

Well, by even considering these questions, you’re off to a great start… and likely miles ahead of some of your competitors.

Having a functional, accessible website is one of the most important things you can do to secure future business. More importantly, having a sound strategy in place when implementing a new design can:

  • increase your chances of securing leads
  • help solidify your existing customer base

Need some inspiration to get started? Consider these five essential areas when preparing to launch a new website…

1. Efficient Backend Engine

A foundational part of website design, coding dictates how your site will function. In essence, this is the infrastructure of your site. It’s your building material, your foundation – and so, it’s critical that you make great coding a top priority as you prepare to build your site.

With that said, it’s important to consider what goes into constructing a functional, efficient site today. The web development process may have changed a bit since the last time you worked on a website.

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The Value of SEO: How Search Can Benefit Your Business

Graph highlighting the benefits of SEO

What is the value of SEO? 

To answer that question, it helps to understand what SEO is all about. For businesses of all sizes, SEO - shorthand for “search engine optimization” - means executing a strategy to help position your website highly on search engine results pages, or SERPs. It’s about making sure that your brand is visible to searchers who turn to Google or Bing looking for general information, specific answers, or a local service provider. 

SEO is a complex and ever-evolving process, which involves many moving pieces - like audience research, keyword analysis, industry research, content creation, backlink building, page optimization, and technical website improvements (to name just a few parts of our typical day). 

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How to Use Social Media and Content Marketing to Build Your Brand Authenticity

In an age of fake news and clickbait content, authenticity for your brand on social media is is more important than ever. It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are missteps you can take that can turn consumers off, and stop your next customers from choosing to engage with you online.

But what does brand authenticity even mean when it comes to business?

Defined by the Journal of Consumer Psychology, brand authenticity refers to:

“the extent to which consumers perceive a brand to be faithful toward itself, true to its consumers, motivated by caring and responsibility, and able to support consumers in being true to themselves.”

The meaning is right there in the name: if your content marketing and social media efforts remain authentic, people will recognize you. The more they recognize you, the more likely they’ll be to engage with you. The more they engage, the more likely they’ll be to recommend you to friends and followers. We could keep going!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).