See, Learn, Do: Inbound Marketing – My First Week At ElementIQ

As I am sitting here thinking about what to write, all I can think about is how excited I am about this new experience with ElementIQ. The past three months I have experienced a lot of life changes such as graduating college, then understanding how it feels being an unemployed degree holder, moving out of my childhood house to a new part of town, and lastly – willingly starting CrossFit for the first time, where you basically sign on the dotted line to get your butt kicked on the daily basis. But then, all these series of events had led me to the office of ElementIQ.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. One day I was working out at the gym and my boyfriend said that there was a guy I needed to meet because he has his own company that dealt with Internet Marketing. At this time I was desperately looking for a job, but I was looking elsewhere and I thought I had other opportunities lined up. But, to satisfy my boyfriend and to let him know I appreciate his help, I was going to talk to this guy. This guy ended up being Sam Araki.

I met Sam at the gym and we got to talking. I explained my past knowledge/education, my niche for social media, and that I really needed a job. This is where I learned about the internship program. He said to post my resume and email him. Literally three days later, I had my interview with Ramesh and Lincoln.

When I sat down with them, they explained to me what they did and the purpose of Inbound Marketing. The more and more I listened; the more and more I was intrigued; then the more and more I knew I wanted this position.

Within the next two weeks, I found out I was employed and that I could finally put my degree, that I worked my butt off for four years for, to good use. So now, I have to thank my boyfriend and the fact that I took up CrossFit, for being able to be where I am today. What I wanted to outline in my debut blog post was my first (exciting, crazy, tiring, joyful) week at ElementIQ as an intern.

Monday, Welcome To The Family:

The Agenda:

-Welcome:  -Admin, supplies, tour, payroll, paperwork, phones expenses, ect.. -Google+, Gmail, apps. docs -Basecamp, Highrise -Work on Bio -Find ElementIQ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+, then follow us/like us/ect

-Install fun apps! – (Pocket, screenshot, Mozbar, WebRank SEO

LUNCH!!!!

1 pm: -Client walkthrough, and client schedule

3-4:30pm: -Learn HUBSPOT!

My first impression of this: WOW, THAT’S A LOT TO ABSORB. YOU LOST ME AT WELCOME!

But, this was not the case. The workday flowed very well after meeting all the great staff members and getting copious amounts of advice from them.  Once I was logged into all of the companies platforms, I started following some marketing and social media blogs like the Social Media Examiner, the Moz Blog, the HubSpot Blog, and much more. Then I started reading the ElementIQ blogs just to learn a little bit more about the company, their style, popular topics, ect.. I was very impressed with their blogs and their popularity. It made me excited to do my own stuff.

I had learned about the “fictional character” approach, as well. This is where you basically make a character for the company that you are trying to market. You are basically just surveying their target market and making up an ideal person that would use their product, or service, to be able to better your marketing approach.

The most mind-blowing experience, I think I have ever had, was learning about HubSpot! There is soooooo much going on that you literally are jaw-dropped at your home screen (In amazement..duhh!). I was really intrigued by HubSpot because it is very powerful. It is an all-in-one marketing tool. You can manage everything and anything from it including your website, social media, blogs, analytics, trends, pages, links ect. It is a godsend for inbound marketing companies like us. I still have a lot more to learn about it, but I’m excited about it; but more excited to start using it!

Then as soon as I knew it, my day was over! It went by very fast, probably because of all the information is thrown at me. I don’t think I have ever heard the word SEO more in one day of my life!

Tuesday, Lets Test How Much You Can Read:

Tuesday was a reading day. I haven’t read that much since my finals week in school. I started the day off reading, and I ended the day off reading. Everything from SEO, to PPC, to Citations. I also had to partake on my first test since college! (When you graduate form college you would think you would be done with tests, right?…WRONG!)

After a long day of reading and learning, I took away from it all with the knowledge that inbound marketing is so important these days for companies and other businesses. It is way more effective today than outbound marketing. This is because society is becoming immune to constantly having ads in their face and with all the technology these days nobody pays attention to even commercials; they will just fast-forward through them.

With inbound marketing, it is fascinating to see all of the platforms of PPC, SEO, Social Media, Blogging, ect. all fall into place simultaneously with each other.

One thing I really liked learning about was the sales funnel. You have the “Top of the Funnel” where first timers visit your site. If these people continue on crawling/show interest in your site they become a “Middle of the Funnel” lead. Then once they give you a call, email, their name,or any personal information related to your site they keep moving down to the “Bottom of the Funnel. Lastly, when purchases are made, they are a customers and not a lead anymore. This is quite interesting to learn about.

Wednesday, Learn Some Citations:

This was a way more exciting day for me. I finally was able to get going on some hands on learning! Citations were the task at hand for the day. Citations are crucial for marketing and getting your business recognized because these are what will pop up, other than your website, for people to contact your business. Some examples are Yellowpages, Google+ (My Business), Manta, Yelp ect..

These sites have all of your contact information, website, and sometimes reviews. These are important referrals for your customers.  When I paired up with Lincoln, we went over how to make citations and how to correct them. He also explained to me how it ties into the other parts of the inbound channels, which is very important.

In addition to citations, I had begun making my first scheduled Tweets! This was my favorite part! I love social media, so when I can research something really cool and make a great post about it, it makes me happy.

Thursday, PPC Is As Easy As 1,2,3 (NOT!):

Thursday was a fun, yet a complex time, for me at ElementIQ. I had been paired up with Drew, the PPC guy, to go over PPC (who would have thought?). PPC is pay-per-click, aka Google Adwords. This is where businesses purchase ads and have a bid for their ad to shop up on the first page of a relevant Google Search. If this ad shows up, and someone clicks on it, the business will pay a fee. As well, if this person clicks on their ad, and the ad has relevance to them, and they are digging more into the landing page; Google will rank your ads better and therefore will more likely show your ads.

The key for Adwords are keywords. Keywords are the little phrases/words you put into your campaign to have you ad show up when someone searches for something in the businesses field. This was very complex for me to understand because there are so many things going on and so many ways to do it! Google is a massive beast! And a smart one at that!

Finally, after getting a grasp of that massive, smart, beast; I was able to do some ads myself! I had fixed up two ads that were not getting enough clicks or impressions. It will be cool to see new analytics next week for those ads! Working with Drew was a very knowledgeable day. It was really neat to finally see how PPC really worked for companies, and to physically see analytic numbers to prove a good PPC can make a huge difference in a business!

Friday!!!!!-Don’t Get Too Excited, It’s SEO Day:

Oh glorious Friday, I had finally made it through my first week as an intern! But, before the weekend hit, I needed to have some much needed hands on learning with some SEO! Today was my day with Payman. He showed me the importance of SEO first hand.

First off, SEO is search engine optimization. So this is the keywords, meta-descriptions, headers, and content that will all be crawled by Google by the keywords you gave Google. It is amazing how one little word in your URL or header can change your search engine results.

You need to be very precise with the keywords and you want to avoid stuffing and thin content. Google will overlook you if this occurs, which is not good! That is why good content is so important when it comes to websites because you want to be recognized by Google and have a good ranking with them, so therefore, you can be found in the search. SEO will also tie in PPC.

By the end of the day, I was helping Ramesh and Payman redo a landing page for one of our clients. I think this is my second favorite thing to social media because I love taking something, and fixing it, to make it better! It was a lot of fun! Now..I can officially say I survived my first week at ElementIQ!

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THREE THINGS TO TAKE FROM MY FIRST WEEK:

  1. Any Question Is Not A Dumb Question!– Ask them all the time. Sometimes what you think is “dumb” is actually a really important question that interns will need to know.
  2. Content Is Key!– Content is so important for inbound marketing. You rely on content to keep whoever lands on your page to keep investigating your page and then keep flowing down the sales funnel. It is also important for Google to recognize your page with SEO and page rankings. I can not stress how important it is!
  3. Know Your Clients!– The more you get to know your clients on a personal level, and know how they operate, what they are about, and their target markets the better work you are going to be able to for them. You will see a higher ROI.

Here Are Some Other Great Guidelines To Use To Be A Great Intern!

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Courtesy of: Career Development Ctr SUNY Plattsburgh via. Pinterest.

Using SEO To Grow Your Dental Practice

The primary marketing goal of every dental practice is to bring in new patients and keep existing patients coming back in. It’s what will keep your practice running. But what will grow your dental practice is being able to attract patients through digital marketing channels. Search engine optimization (SEO) is starting to be more and more used as an Inbound marketing channel by dental practices across North America. Put in a geographic search for dentists into Google and you’ll see a local 6-pack result show up of all dental practices in that area. You’ll see well-optimized websites also show up in the first organic results.

It’s clear that more and more dental practices are leveraging the power of the Internet to attract more patients –
While SEO is just one channel under the Inbound Marketing umbrella, it’s an effective one and deserves a micro-examination of how it alone can grow your dental practice.

We’ve seen it ourselves that this works for dental practices so let’s go into what every dentist ought to do with respect to SEO.

SEO for dental practices

What Is SEO?

First, let’s start things off by defining what exactly SEO is. SEO is the practice of improving a specific website or web page so that it receives more visitors via search engines. The goal is to ensure that the website/page in question ranks and ranks well for keywords profitable for a given business. Research shows that 75% of searchers don’t move past the first page.

Not surprisingly, people tend to click on the first few organic results on a search engine results page (SERP) the most.

Effective SEO can help your dental practice increase qualified traffic to your website and satisfy the end goal of attracting new patients.

Getting Started With SEO

You may be wondering how to get started with SEO. It’s not rocket science but it does take a LOT of time and effort! But as I mentioned, the results can be great (if done correctly). It’s often difficult for busy professionals to find the time to learn and/or make search engine optimization work for them.
Good SEO comes down some specific things:

  • Proper Keyword Research – There are a number of ways to do targeted keyword research to find out what people are searching in your industry and roughly how many times a month do people search those terms.
  • Content – Your site content is what will (or will not) help convert visitors into leads and paying customers. But content also gets crawled by search engines. So what you must ask yourself is –does your site content read well for people AND search engines. Are there specific keyword phrases that you are targeting throughout the page including in the title tag, meta description, image alt text, heading, and subheadings? Moreover, search engines love sites that regularly publish fresh quality content. Hence, the popularity of blogging. But with so many blogs out there, the trick is in making your content unique.
  • Links – Links are essentially votes from across the Internet that tell search engines what sites and pages are important and popular. The more links pointing to your website (from quality sites) and specific pages on it, the more important those pages become in the eyes of search engines and the higher their rankings will be. Building citations (spoken about below), doing guest blog posts on high profile sites are examples of proven, effective link building.
  • Site Architecture – Your website can only get ranked by search engines if their bots can actually crawl it. With that said, site architecture and structure are important. Can search engines crawl your website with ease? Using sitemaps and robots.txt can help with this. Does your URL structure make sense? Search engines do look at this. Does your site load quickly? Yes, this is a minor search engine factor but it’s still important for usability.
  • Citations/Directories – I mentioned this in link building – getting on high traffic directories and having what we call NAP – Name, Address, Phone number on there for your business is important. There also may be niche directories specific to your industry that would be beneficial for you to be on.

Google has over 200 different ranking factors that have been tested and are essentially the norm. So there certainly is much more to SEO than the above but in the context of doing SEO well and for a dental practice, this is a good starting point.

SEO For Dental Practices

So we come to the part about how all that we’ve talked about can be applied to your dental practice. YES, it can be done and I’ve seen the results. They are crystal clear – SEO works for dental practices. How? Here are 7 practical steps to take:

  • Conduct An SEO Audit. See how your website loads, if there’s thin or duplicate content, what your link profile is like and how crawlable your site is. You can also see what keywords you currently rank for and what ones you don’t.
  • Develop A Keyword Strategy. Do plenty of research on keywords that are profitable to your dental practice. Usually, this will include keyword phrases with “dentist” in them, phrases with a geographic term (where your dental practice is located), and phrases with your service offerings (cosmetic dentistry, dental veneers, etc) in them.
  • Conduct Competitor Analysis. Find out what your competing dental practices are doing. See what keywords they are ranking for, look at their link profiles, and examine what you can do to match where they’re at and how you can beat them.
  • Create A Link Building Strategy. Take the backlink assessment you did in the original SEO audit and use that and the competitor link profiles to see where you can build links. List some high profile websites to guest post on, as I mentioned in the content strategy section. Outline how many links you’ll build per month in a schedule. Remember not to do too much too soon or Google might be suspicious.
  • Implement Your Strategies. Get writing and if you don’t have time, hire writers. Don’t know where to look? Then just contract an agency to handle it all. Start your linking outreach. Not sure how? Hire a professional link builder.
  • Track Your Progress. Use Google Analytics to see track site statistics. There are other tools like Advanced Web Ranking that show you how your search engine rankings and visibility are doing for your dental practice. Other tools are out there that can help you manage your content process and streamline your link outreach process.

Don’t Forget: Optimizing for mobile. Mobile usership has rapidly increased over the last year. Make sure your website is mobile-optimized so that it can viewed effectively on a mobile device or tablet. We call this responsive design. You can test whether your own site is responsive by taking the bottom right corner of your browser window and dragging it inward and upward. If the navigation and images shrink and stay in line as you make the window narrower, then it’s a responsive website. If nothing happens with the body of the site as you shrink the window, then it’s not responsively-designed.

An SEO Disclaimer!

Even the very term, SEO, has been bastardized by inferior, sketchy firms, mostly located overseas. These ‘SEO companies’ employ what we call ‘black-hat tactics’ – things that worked 5-10 years ago in search engines but are subject to penalties from Google if done now.
So for the sake of your dental practice, DO NOT fall for outlandish claims by these guys who say they can get you to the top of Google search results pages for an extremely low price. When it comes to SEO and overall digital marketing, there is a direct correlation between what you invest and the results you will likely get. If your primary goal is to improve your dental practice’s web presence for pennies on the dime, you’d be better off not doing anything.

I’ve seen businesses fall for these overseas schemes because they were attracted by low prices and lofty promises and ended up getting penalized by Google. To recover from a manual penalty from Google takes a lot of time and effort – but also a lot of money out of your pocket. That’s not the kind of experience, service, and result you want out of professionals you hire. Go the safe route and dentists, if you want your dental practice to do well online, invest your money into a qualified, certified, creative, and resourceful agency who will get the job done properly.

SEO Takeaways For Your Dental Practice

With everything I’ve explained, listed and suggested here, doing it all will take some time but success will come if it’s done right.
But remember that SEO is just one Inbound Marketing channel. There’s so much more you can do to improve your web presence beyond what I’ve mentioned here in this post. A comprehensive digital strategy for your dental practice should incorporate other digital marketing channels like blogging, social media, paid search and video, so long as it makes sense for your practice and your marketing budget.

If you’ve got questions, please ask via the comments section below