Tag Archives: Small Business Marketing

A Guide to Getting Started with Instagram Sponsored Posts

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If you are a business owner or marketer, you know that social media is one of the top ways to interact with potential customers and get your brand out into the public eye. You have probably used Facebook to interact with existing and potential customers, and likely have heard of Instagram as an advertising and interaction platform.

Did you know that there are 1 billion active users monthly on Instagram? Of those 1 billion, at least half are engaging with not only friends, but with brands, too. Instagram users actually engage with brands 10 times more than they do on Facebook.

Using Instagram properly can make a huge difference in the engagement levels your business sees each month. One way to increase your brand awareness is through Instagram sponsored posts.

What Are Instagram Sponsored Posts?

Instagram sponsored posts are organic posts made by you on the Instagram platform that you can then use as an advertisement for your brand, so long as you put money behind it. Unlike traditional advertisements, you will use an existing organic post and all of its engagement to reach more Instagram users.

These will look like any regular Instagram post, but will say “Sponsored” next to your company’s name. Like this:

If you want to be able to target a specific audience, you should make use of true promoted posts. These posts will only appear on the Instagram platform. But, you can target them to a specific audience based on age, location and interests. You can add your website URL and even an action button to help drive potential customers to your website.

If you want to run engagement-oriented sponsored posts, you can choose a past Instagram post from your profile and use the targeting options that are available for typical Facebook and Instagram ads. The benefit of this type of sponsored post is that all engagement on and off platform will be transferred to the original post while the sponsored post is running. This increases your user-generated content (USG) and helps to spread the word of your brand.

How Are Sponsored Posts Different than Other Types of Instagram Ads?

Promoted and sponsored posts both focus on promoting existing posts as they currently are. This includes all user-generated content. Other types of Instagram ads focus on brand awareness, lead generation, conversions and traffic.

These ads will create new posts even if you are using the same image and caption as an existing post; they will not carry over comments left by users in the past on similar/identical posts. By creating a blank slate, you can’t capitalize on the engagement that exists on the original post.

When you initially create your sponsored post, you will be asked what the objective is for that post. You can choose from the following options:

  • Traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Engagement
  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • App installs
  • Messages
  • Video views
  • Catalog sales
  • Conversions
  • Store visits

The option you choose will determine who sees your ad. Both Instagram and Facebook will only show your ad to people their algorithms identify as most likely to take your desired actions. This means you may have a hard time getting more engagement while also getting new leads by creating just one sponsored post.

Creating Instagram Sponsored Posts in Ads Manager on Facebook

Because Facebook owns Instagram, you can create sponsored posts that can populate both platforms. The Ads Manager is extremely easy to use when creating a sponsored post.

Narrow or Broad Target Audience?

First, you will go to Facebook’s Create Ad page and choose “engagement” as your objective. Once you have chosen your objective, you will then begin choosing your targeting:

  • You may choose to create a narrow target audience if your brand will appeal to only a certain type of person.
  • Or you may choose to keep your targeted audience as broad and general as you can.

This choice depends on your brand and to whom the sponsored post would be most relevant.

While having a broad and general audience may allow you to reach a higher number of individuals with your sponsored post, having a more narrowed target audience may just get you more engagement on the post coming from individuals who are truly interested in your brand and what you have to offer them.

What to Post, Where to Post

Once you have chosen your target audience, you will need to choose your placement and determine how much you want to invest in this sponsored post. Choosing the correct platforms will affect whether people will be able to view likes, comments and shares. This can affect the overall engagement the sponsored post generates.

Once you have handled all the logistics of the post, it is time for the fun part: choosing your creative. This is the step where you review all of your previous Instagram posts and determine which organic post you would like to use as a sponsored post. In many cases, you will have a similar post on both Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you select the Instagram version of the post.

The final step is to review your ad and submit it. During this process, you will want to check that you have chosen the correct post, the correct target audience and the correct objective for this sponsored post.

When Should You Create Sponsored Posts on Instagram?

Instagram sponsored posts are not ideal for every situation; whether you should use sponsored posts or the traditional ad system will depend on your ultimate objective for this campaign. Are you looking to simply get more attention to your brand, convert engagement into profit, or increase local store traffic? Then a traditional ad may be a better option.

However, there are four cases when a sponsored post can reap benefits for your brand and business:

  • Shoppable Posts: Instagram allows business owners to tag a product in their images and create a link for users to purchase a product they like immediately. These posts only work on mobile and the Instagram platform, so you will want to use sponsored posts with Instagram-only placements.
  • More Brand Awareness and Visibility: Even brick-and-mortar companies can benefit from sponsored posts on Instagram. These posts can raise the awareness of your brand while allowing you to engage with current and potential customers. This engagement level can lead new customers to your store.
  • Accumulating More User-Generated Content: Again, using an organic post with plenty of user-generated content will gain you more UGC on a sponsored post. When people see posts that already have a ton of UGC, they are more likely to take notice of the content of your post.
  • Leverage Your Existing UGC: Chances are you have at least one post that is doing really well in the engagement department. If this is the case, you should consider using this post in a sponsored campaign, as it will likely do well with a larger audience. As a bonus, the user-generated content it has already earned will carry over into the sponsored post.

Sponsored Posts and Traditional Ads Can Go Hand in Hand

Instagram sponsored posts in conjunction with traditional Instagram Ads can help you reach a diverse set of goals for your business. Traditional ads serve to drive specific actions, while sponsored posts are available to boost the momentum of your existing organic posts. When getting started, you should test out both and see which works best for your individual business needs. You will likely see differences in the way your audience responds to each type.

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Why Cannabis Design Without Showing Flower Gives Marijuana Business an Edge

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Why Cannabis Design Without Showing Flower Gives Marijuana Business an Edge

On the face of this notion, you might think that I’m ashamed of marijuana use as a whole. You could believe that there’s an insinuation here, that cannabis-related businesses should act as though they’ve got something to hide.

According to the federal government, they do. Facebook, Google and Amazon might concur with that sentiment as well because as long as cannabis product and service offerings don’t play by their rules (when they choose to enforce them), these businesses don’t or won’t exist. Then again, marijuana industry sales certainly don’t dictate that. In fact, there’s a lot to celebrate: It’s a billion dollar industry. But the same challenges that stand in the marketing and public positioning of these businesses also exist in cannabis design. It could be one of the factors for success and failure. Here’s why.

Marijuana Advertising and Cannabis Design Must Overcome Stigma in 3 Seconds

There is a three-second rule. No, not the one that applies to food dropped on the floor that’s still fit for consumption; that’s actually a five-second rule. I’m talking about three seconds. It may not sound like a lifetime. It is in radio. But there’s no visual element in that media channel – just the power of the mind. However, three seconds on a print piece, billboard or web display will represent a lifetime of brand perception to the viewer, whether the impression is on target or totally off the mark.

Many existing dispensary shops and ancillary weed-based businesses use the obvious indicator of the product, the marijuana leaf. But according to a recent U.S. Patent and Trademark Office report, 44 percent of logos in this industry had some form of the plant included. Isn’t the cannabis industry much bigger than that?

Think of it this way. If you had a company that manufactured a coffee drink flavored with butter (some people drink coffee as such), how impactful would coffee beans or a stick of butter be to the logo? Pretty meh, right? And it wouldn’t pass the three second test. That is, if a consumer even needed the entire three seconds before passing it over and looking for “Next”…

The Right Look and Feel of Cannabis Branding Makes Consumers Want to Touch It

Strong branding and alluring cannabis design are one in the same. Brand colors and placement, typeface, size and tone all play a significant role in how a consumer perceives who you are, what you do and how you do it. This is inclusive of marijuana enterprises as well. It boils down to creating the experience that a person wants to visit and revisit.

Positive Logo Brand Experience

More than likely, the first customer experience happens on a website. Unless it’s a landing page, the home page is the starting point. From there, people will then venture into the brick and mortar of the company, the dispensary, for example. But what then?

The Journey of the Marijuana Brand Experience

Let’s say you’re driving home from work on a Friday evening and although you’ve put the work week behind, you’re still carrying the stress of the job (as many of us do). While you’re approaching a stop light as dusk begins its descent, something catches the corner of your eye. There, at the top right corner of it.

There’s a billboard, extolling the virtues of a marijuana dispensary located just around the corner. You’re a card-carrying member of the cannabis community so you follow the sign to check it out. You’re thinking that, more than likely, they’ll have something to help ease the tension from your neck and back. And they’re just two miles from home. Timing is everything. But here’s what I haven’t told you yet: the company’s name, Kind Meds. Emotionally approachable? Heck yeah!

One more anecdote before we move on … If your web brand doesn’t align with your on-site experience, you’ve created a consumer disconnect. For businesses that rely on marijuana marketing to increase brand awareness, engage new customers and build brand loyalty, it’s everything.

Let’s take this up a notch.

Tomorrow’s Marijuana Advocates Might Be Today’s Adversaries

What if the person in that car heading home from work wasn’t a marijuana advocate? In fact, what if he/she is one of the millions in the United States who still support the Schedule I drug classification? Even with the recent news that the DEA moved some marijuana formulations into Schedule V, making this the first time it provided a sliver of government-backed legitimacy to its use, it isn’t widely known to the general public.

Even with the anti-cannabis tide changing, leaning more towards acceptance, how could a brand convince a person, dead-set against the product, to give it a moment (three seconds) of consideration?

The Don’ts of Cannabis Design and Branding

If you’re trying to get the attention of consumers who are on the fence about cannabis use, reminding them about past stigmas and conflicting legal regulations (state-to-state and federal) won’t do your brand any favors.

Instead, make sure your cannabis design and overall brand sell an experience or a lifestyle. There are effective ways to execute this, as there’s no reason to state the obvious by using a marijuana leaf. It’s boring, dated and represents lackluster creativity. Besides, you cannot “sell” product through cannabis advertising any way.

What you can do is create cannabis design that excites the senses and exudes a direct representation of the company and the corresponding audience(s) you’re wanting to attract.

It’s All About the Packaging

Recent stories and concerns across the country are forcing necessary changes in the way cannabis products are packaged. Some states are instituting new guidelines in marijuana products that not only minimize the allure of edibles to children, but make it more difficult to open the products (child-resistant and child-proof).

Brand Persuasion in a Name

Meanwhile, let’s get back to the potential new cannabis lover, yet to try the product. Normally, a billboard that had a hint of marijuana theme to it would never get a second chance. But there’s something about the name Kind Meds. It’s warm, inviting and supportive. What if the entire brand experience echoed the same description?

This is powerful brand positioning. It creates, through suggestion and statement, what the dispensary stands for and what they deliver to the consumer. No matter how the cannabis industry evolves (or stands still at some point), the term kind will always relay positivity and something to be shared. Perfect for social media campaigns.

Brand Differentiators Are Essential to Shine Beyond Competitors

Just like any other industry, cannabis businesses must use design and marketing to create memorable impressions on their customers and prospects. In today’s retail culture, it isn’t just enough to throw up a sign, open your doors and expect the sales traffic to flow.

Consumers want to do their research. They want to find verifiable sources that speak to the benefits of what you have to offer. And when they finally decide to come face to face in store, the research and testimonials have to match up to their experience. If it happens, they’ll buy that product and cannabis swag you have on the shelves, share their experience and be your brand ambassador. Then hit repeat.

How Do You Put Cannabis in Front of People? We Do This, Well.

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Vol. 83: Link Building Answers Could Be Right Under Your Nose

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Existing Relationships Link Building Connections - Eminent SEO

Turn Existing Relationships into Link Building Connections

If you’re a small business owner, you’re going to have to lean on existing relationships – personal, professional, etc. – to help get your business off the ground.

Building Business Relationships Digitally And In Person - Eminent SEOThis rings true for launching your own website and trying to get it to rank on search engines. Links from other websites are going to be crucial to helping you achieve the rankings you desire, no matter how great of a writer you might be.

Have you thought about using your existing relationships to land coveted links from other sites? With closer relationships, it could be as easy as asking and receiving.

In other instances, you may have to nurture your relationship with that contact. You might even offer them something – such as a positive online review – ahead of asking for a link from their site.

No matter what, don’t overlook any relationships you already have when it comes to link building for your small biz website.

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''Link building is all about establishing relationships, and if you already have a relationship with someone, then the first step is done.'' - Chris Weatherall, President of Eminent SEO @eminentseo #linkbuilding

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President and SEO Strategist Chris has over a decade and a half of website development, SEO and organic link building experience. He manages the strategy for each client and drives the search engine rankings and traffic Eminent SEO is known for. When you hire Eminent you hire Chris, which means you have a veteran organic search expert on your team. Oh, and he’s funny too!

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Grow Your Cannabis Business with These Marketing Tips

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Cannabis Marketing Tips Dispensary Businesses - Eminent SEO
Marketing cannabis businesses is actually pretty nuanced. For example, you can’t just start a new Facebook account about your marijuana brand and say whatever you want about your products like any other business would. Nope. Facebook does not like that.

Cannabis marketing is still evolving with the changing industry, and there are things we can and can’t do. On top of that, the industry is young and many companies didn’t have to worry about strong branding and forward-thinking marketing because the demand was so high. But, with increasing demand always comes increasing competition.

Here are a few cannabis marketing tips to help businesses navigate the changing landscape of marketing and stand out from the competition:

Be Careful Your Marketing Messaging Doesn’t Target Minors

Cannabis is still in its early stages in terms of its legalization and acceptance in many ways. You must always keep age restrictions in mind and be careful about where you choose to advertise.

Marijuana businesses should make marketing messaging a top priority. Using a lot of jokes and incorporating cartoon mascots, like Joe Camel, will give the wrong image of your brand. It will also undermine the goal of the cannabis industry as a whole: to be taken seriously.

Make sure your social media AND your website both ask the user to confirm that they are 21 years or older in order to proceed. You might not be able to verify each follower yourself, but the disclaimer gives the platforms some assurances you are trying to do your part.

Don’t Try to Sell Your Cannabis Products on Social Media

The big social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, are being pretty particular when it comes to what you can and can’t say about cannabis on their platforms. Some cannabis business owners have reported being flagged, getting posts removed and their accounts taken down altogether. It seems like marijuana is all over social media, so why are some accounts getting shut down while others are not?

We turned to the Instagram Community Guidelines to see if we could find any answers. This seems to be the closest thing to an answer: “Offering sexual services, buying or selling firearms and illegal or prescription drugs (even if it’s legal in your region) is also not allowed.”

Okay, we get it. But, why then do some accounts seem to remain unrestricted for years while others are taken down over and over? With cannabis only recently becoming more legally available, it doesn’t surprise us that Facebook and Instagram are a bit paranoid about what they allow on their platforms. But, if cannabis is treated like other substances, this wouldn’t be such a common issue for dispensaries.

Just look at alcohol. Who is monitoring the Coors Light account to make sure the 82,000-plus followers are all over 21? No one. But, better believe they are promoting the sale of their product. It appears to be fine to share product pics and talk about the product as long as you don’t directly suggest that fans purchase it.

Unfortunately, this is a bit of a gray area for some. It’s hard to know what you can and can’t say. And who has time to read all of those guidelines, anyway?

Are You Recreational or a Medical Dispensary? Why? There’s a Big Difference.

If you are marketing yourself as a recreational cannabis business, then social networks should treat you like it treats tobacco and alcohol industries. Meaning, you should have to make specific warnings and then be allowed to market your product as you see fit.

However, if you are offering a medical product and making medical claims about cannabis, then it makes sense that they would view you as a pharmaceutical company, which has its own process for proving a product has medical benefits.

Decide What Type of Cannabis Business You Are

Recreational Or Medical What Type Of Cannabis Business Are You - Eminent SEOUnfortunately, if you want to play by the rules, you are going to have to decide. Are you going to market yourself as a recreational brand? Or, are you going to push the medical benefits?

If you are going to share health advice, be advised: Certain platforms will see this as a violation of their terms.

There are two main rules you should remember:

  1. If you are talking about medical benefits, don’t take a solid stance as a brand. Instead, refer to studies and other third-party information to support your comment, such as patient testimonials. For example, write, “Many patients claim CBD helps them with their arthritis,” instead of, “CBD is known to help with pain from arthritis.”
  2. If you are a dispensary, you cannot push your cannabis products. If you have some new products to sell, they don’t want you publishing a picture with a caption that says how and where you can buy the products. Yes, even if you are dispensary and require visitors to present a valid card before they can purchase anything. The social platforms don’t care. These types of posts will be removed, and your whole account may get banned or suspended.

Branding Your Cannabis Business Beyond Recreational vs. Medical

Of course, there is more to it than simply knowing whether your brand represents a recreational business or medical company. What does your brand stand for? Do you have a company mission statement? Why did you get into the cannabis business? What is your story? What is your long-term vision for your brand?

If you hope to stand out from the competition, you must first define what sets you apart. Ask yourself what makes you unique?

Start with a Mission Statement

Marketing Tips For Cannabis Dispensary Businesses - ESEOA well-crafted mission statement aligns the company officers and employees with the same goals and objectives. The mission statement can act as the framework for decision making and provide a clear path to change if the company gets off track.

Without a mission statement, a company can easily lose track of its values, stability and specific goals.

Here at Eminent SEO, we have our own Mission Statement clearly stated on our website:

“Eminent SEO seeks to create and promote beautiful brand collateral, expertly optimized websites and well-crafted marketing messages as a means to push the boundaries of internet marketing, and to help companies, corporations and government agencies be more successful.

“It’s our mission to deliver ethical, high-quality services while simultaneously working on creating meaningful relationships with our clients, partners, each other and those in the community around us.”

If you want to get to work on your own mission statement, here are some things to consider: Mission Statement vs. Vision vs. Company Culture

Examples of Cannabis Business Mission Statements

TheCannabisIndustry.org:

To promote the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and work for a favorable social, economic, and legal environment for that industry in the United States.

“The National Cannabis Industry Association was founded on the principle of power in numbers. The thousands of American businesses involved in the state-legal cannabis industries represent a tremendous economic force in this country. As the industry’s national trade association, NCIA works every day to ensure our growing business sector is represented in a professional and coordinated way on the national stage.”

EarthMed.com:

“EarthMed prides itself on providing the highest quality compassionate care to patients who truly need it. We understand that for many, pain is a daily part of life and that nobody should have to live in pain when there are treatments available. Medical Cannabis has many medical benefits that ease the pain that traditional medicine cannot offer. EarthMed’s focus is to provide a safe and legal venue for patients to receive treatment using Medical Cannabis.

“Another ideal EarthMed strives for is community outreach and education regarding Medical Cannabis. These include educating the community with regards to the benefits of Medical Cannabis and how to legally obtain it.”

KindMedsAZ.com:

“Kind Meds is a medical marijuana dispensary that is focused on cultivating top-quality medical cannabis flower and similar products to help patients overcome illness, pain, and to live happier.

“Our company is passionate about supplying grade A cannabis flower as well as being a reliable resource to help educate individuals about quality cannabis medicine, because we feel that it can help change people’s lives for the better.”

Define Your Buyer Types

Before you can market to new prospects, you must define who they are. If you have a luxury cannabis brand, for example, your buyer might have a higher income, certain profession and live in a specific geographical location. You also need to consider age, gender and interests.

Buyer Personas for Cannabis Businesses

Depending on your specific brand and goals, you may have one, two or several buyer persona types. If you are just getting started, don’t overdo it.

Define your top two to three revenue-generating buyers and build your strategies around them to start. Consider:

  • Medical patients
  • Cannabis advocates/fans
  • Professionals
  • Advertising partners

Let’s say you are a medical cannabis dispensary that offers top-shelf products in Mesa, Arizona. You may ask yourself:

Who is my desired customer? What motivates them? What do they need to make a decision?

Define:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Favorite websites
  • Shopping preferences
  • Typical buying concerns
  • How they found you

Once you have your buyer personas identified, you can create better marketing strategies for each one. If you know your buyer hangs out on Instagram and watches YouTube videos but never goes on LinkedIn, then you know where to focus your marketing dollars and effort.

Cannabis Business Logos

We always tell our clients to think about how their logo will look on T-shirts, hats, mugs, letterhead, business cards – all kinds of swag and print. Your branding should be cool enough to wear on a hoodie, and professional enough to use on the website and marketing collateral.

James L. Bowie, a sociologist at Northern Arizona University who analyzes patterns and trends in logo design, wrote in Slate’s design blog “The Eye” in 2016:

“Analysis of United States Patent and Trademark Office records shows that 44 percent of logos registered as trademarks for marijuana-related businesses feature the familiar cannabis leaf.”

Too many cannabis brand logos and websites look the same. If your competitors are all using the same colors, fonts and symbols, maybe – actually, definitely – you should do something different. How else will you stand out among the endless sea of green marijuana leaves?

Marijuana Cannabis Dispensary Logos All The Same - ESEO
Where’s the creativity, people?

Cannabis Digital Marketing

Branding is just the beginning. Next, it’s tagline, messaging, website and marketing strategy. In today’s marketplace, people are consuming more digital content and less traditional media.

You might still rely on some forms of direct marketing, such as billboards, radio spots and print. However, if you expect to be successful long term as a brand, you’ve got to incorporate digital.

Our outline for a successful cannabis digital multi-channel marketing plan includes:

  • Quality Website
  • Expert SEO
  • Well-Researched, Relevant Content
  • An Engaging Website Blog
  • Google My Business and Other Local Listings
  • Organic Search Marketing
  • Social Media, such as: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Email Marketing
  • Text Messaging Marketing
  • Video Creation and Promotion
  • Branded Asset Development
  • Banner and Ad Network Campaigns
  • Influencer and Brand Partnerships
  • Event Sponsorships (with Online Event Promotions)
  • Reputation Monitoring and Management

We then track all marketing channels and evaluate the data each month to determine what the strategy will focus on in the following month.

The cannabis industry is evolving at a fast pace. If you want to be part of the future of cannabis, you might want to consider upping your branding and marketing game.

The Public Demands Quality Cannabis Content

Matei Olaru, CEO of Lift, a cannabis media and technology company in Canada, said that putting the right data, instruction or knowledge in front of consumers, sellers and medical professionals is a need that cannabis entrepreneurs can fill.

“Decades of misinformation has been perpetuated by prohibition,” Matei said. “As the number of legal cannabis consumers increases exponentially, so will the opportunities for information and media companies (in print, video or on the web).”

Before Applying These Cannabis Marketing Tips, Share Your Story!

Have you found success with a specific marketing strategy for your cannabis business? What about an epic fail or a big lesson learned?

Share your cannabis branding, marketing or business strategies in the comments and help budding entrepreneurs grow their businesses (pun intended).

Together, we can create and share cannabis content that matters. Learn more here: Professional Cannabis Branding and Marketing Services or call to speak with a pro: 800.871.4130.

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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What’s the Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer? Which Does My Business Need?

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Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer - Eminent SEO

When discussing website construction, the terms web designer and web developer are very often used interchangeably. To the laity, both of these titles simply describe a person whose career is building websites for businesses, and to an extent they are right. However, web designers and web developers work in two separate, but often closely related, spheres of website production.

While the roles of web developers and web designers are different, both work hand in hand in order to create a visually stunning and structurally sound website. In this article, we’ll discuss the differences and similarities between these two types of professionals to help you decide which one you need for your business.

What Is a Web Designer?

Web Design vs Web Development Work Together - Eminent SEOA web designer’s job is all about capturing the essence of a client’s vision and transforming it into a model of a potential website that is both aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. Similar to the way an engineer is responsible for designing the blueprints and models for a bridge before construction begins, a web designer’s task is to create the look and feel of a website before the web developer can bring it to life.

A good web designer will be equal parts artist and craftsman, possessing both a solid understanding of design theory, as well as the technological limitations faced by the development team in charge of building the website.

A web designer’s job description includes skills such as:

  • Knowledge and proficiency in both logo and graphic design
  • An understanding of design theory, including flow, color, spacing, balance and proportion.
  • An intuitive feel for creating the best user experience for a website’s visitors
  • In-depth knowledge of software tools such as Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Canva
  • Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of the latest trends in the design world

What Is a Web Developer?

A web developer’s job is to take the models and sketches for a website created by the web designer and turn them into fully functional webpages. If the web designer’s role can be likened to that of an engineer or architect, consider the web developer as a sort of construction worker responsible for building the website from the ground up.

Web development can be broken down into two main categories: front-end development and back-end development.

The Front-End Web Developer

The front end of a website is what visitors will see and interact with on their browser. Also known as the “client side,” the front end consists of all of the text, images, colors, buttons, internal links and menus that the user experiences directly.

In short, the front-end developer is responsible for making sure that the visitor experiences an error-free website that looks exactly how the web designer envisioned it.

There are three primary coding languages used by front-end developers. These languages are:

  • Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
  • Javascript (JS)
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

The Back-End Web Developer

A website’s back end refers to the portion of a website that a visitor will never directly experience, and is made up of three parts: an application, a server and a database. The back end serves as the link between the server and the website’s visitors.

The majority of the code for the web application can be found on the back end. It’s important to keep in mind that poor coding on the back end will translate to a sluggish, glitchy performance on the front end.

Back-end coding languages differ from front-end coding languages, and include:

  • Python
  • PHP
  • Ruby on Rails
  • SQL
  • Java
  • NET

A backend developer is responsible for making sure that all of the right data gets sent from the server to the browser. If the front end is the 10 percent of the iceberg that floats above the water’s surface, the back end is the other 90 percent that remains submerged.

Which of These Professionals Should Your Business Use?

Web designers and web developers are both crucial players in creating an awesome website for your business, so it only makes sense to recruit the help of both.

There’s a reason why the saying “two heads are better than one” has been around for so long: because it’s the truth! When a proficient designer and developer collaborate, they can make magic happen. These two groups of professionals each bring a unique set of skills to the table, both of which are vital to the success of a website project.

The Importance of Working Together

Front End Website 10 Percent Back End 10 Percent - Eminent SEOHaving the design and development teams work side by side ensures that everyone is able to plan and execute the project efficiently and effectively. Allowing the design team to run their sketches and mockups for the website past the development team on an ongoing basis guarantees that the initial design approved by the client is both practical and achievable.

After all, as a client, you never want to hear that the design team bit off more than they could chew halfway through a project.

Not only is working together from day one a surefire way to avoid many costly and time-consuming setbacks, it allows two different types of creative minds to work in synergy, creating a website that not only meets but exceeds the client’s expectations.

Additional benefits of hiring a close-knit team of web designers and developers include:

  • Having multiple sets of eyes on every stage of website construction, identifying and correcting flaws and mistakes as they arise
  • The opportunity for creative brainstorming between both right-brain thinkers (designers) and left-brain thinkers (developers)
  • Mutual accountability between the two teams
  • A finished product where the aesthetic elements complement the interactive elements, and vice versa

Despite the Difference Between Web Designer and Web Developer, Should I Hire a Hybrid Specialist?

If you are looking to build a website for your business but have only a limited budget for the project, it might be tempting to hire a single person playing the role of a hybrid designer-developer. This approach may work for some businesses owners, especially those looking for a fairly basic website and are not overly concerned with visitor engagement and conversion. However, like most things in life, you are likely to get what you pay for.

A so-called “jack of all trades” is unlikely to possess a deep understanding of both web design and web development, which means that projects tend to take longer to complete, and the final product is unlikely to live up to your, and even their, expectations.

Moving Forward

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the dynamic relationship between the web designer and the web developer, and just how important each role is in creating the perfect website for your business.

If you still have questions about the various considerations that go into building a website, come check out our website design and development page and learn more about how the expert team of designers and developers at Eminent SEO can help you grow your business and your web presence.

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Why You Should Invest in Cannabis SEO for Your Canna-Business Right Now

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Cannabis SEO For Your Canna-Business - Eminent SEO

Are you a cannabis business looking for a smokin’ deal? Cannabis SEO is where it’s at.

For cannabis companies, it’s important to understand where your advertising dollars are best being spent. If you’re a start-up dispensary or product manufacturer, you’re probably wondering how you’re able to get your brand out there to potential customers. A cannabis SEO strategy for your business would be an ideal place to invest.

Organic Search Can Be a Top Lead-Generating Channel

Without the ability to bid on keywords that you’d want to target for conversions through Google AdWords, you can still rank for these keywords organically on Google.

Top Shelf Cannabis Dispensaries Google Search - ESEOFor the search query above, the first few results are organic listings. There aren’t any paid ads or local listings within the first few results, at least for now.

Cannabis Local Search Rankings Google Screenshot - ESEOAs you move further down the page for the same results, Google displays local organic listings and videos.

When performing a local search query, you’ll find that the results are still all organic, but make note that the local listings are the very top of the results.

Cannabis Dispensary In Arizona Google Search Screenshot - ESEOWithout paid ads taking up the majority of the search results, you have the opportunity to develop a website that can rank organically and see traffic from the organic search sources such as Google Maps and Google Organic.

How Do Websites Compete Organically on Google?

There is an array of organic ranking factors that Google considers before a website can organically rank in one of the top positions. These factors include:

  • Quality of website user experience and design
  • How the website functions on mobile platforms
  • Quality of website content
  • Which keywords the website is optimized for
  • Quality of other websites linking to this website
  • Social referral traffic and signals
  • Other referral traffic
  • User engagement on the website (time on site, bounce rate, pages per session, etc.)

By investing in a high-quality website design with optimized content up front, you are investing in your future SEO strategy – one that will bring your company qualified leads.

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The longer you wait to invest in website SEO, the farther you're going to fall behind your competition.

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Cannabis SEO Is Your Best Bet for ROI

Cannabis Search Rankings Are Ripe For The Picking - Eminent SEOCannabis businesses will be required to invest in their own websites because Google, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are being very strict about their advertising policies for cannabis-related content.

Are there some loopholes to get found with paid advertising? Sure. However, don’t count on this for a long-term strategy if you want your brand to grow. It’s only a matter of time before the platform shuts down your ads or your entire page. So, tread lightly…

By investing in your website with cannabis SEO, you are developing unique content that will live on forever with Google. Blog posts can easily rank for years on end for a website as long as the topic is still highly relevant to the search query. This brings a large amount of organic traffic to your website with just one piece of content.

Now, multiply that one piece of content by hundreds of pages/posts on your website that could potentially rank for their own variations of different keywords. The possibilities are endless.

SEO is always a top lead-generating channel for businesses of any kind. People are using Google on their mobile devices to find:

  • Local marijuana dispensaries
  • Top-shelf cannabis strains
  • Legal news
  • How-to videos
  • And more

If your website provides useful information and content that speaks to that audience, you will see month-over-month organic ranking increases.

Have Patience with Rankings and Traffic

Keyword rankings lead to qualified organic traffic. As long as you’ve designed your website for optimal user experience, the site shouldn’t have issues converting that traffic into qualified leads.

All of our clients who have invested in an exceptional website and content with ongoing maintenance see a full return on their investment. Sometimes it can take a little longer to see results than anticipated, but the campaign will pay off. Just give it some time.

Related Post: How Long Does SEO Take and Is It Worth Investing In?

How Cannabis SEO and Social Media Work Together

A lead-generating SEO and social strategy will always work together as one unified campaign. For ongoing SEO, you’ll constantly need up-to-date articles or blog posts on your website to keep search engine crawlers coming back to your site and indexing your content.

Social media plays a large role in helping the content you’re generating on a weekly or monthly basis find an audience much quicker. By using social platforms to feed your audience the fresh content they want to read, your content will acquire social signals, user-generated comments and user engagement on the website. Those are three of ranking factors I mentioned above.

Puff, Puff, Pass the Competition

If you’re looking to invest in your cannabis company for long-term revenue increases, SEO can be your best option. We’ve already seen it happen with other cannabis companies. The longer you wait to invest in your website SEO, the longer it’s going to take to get ahead of your competition. Believe me, you’ll be able to smoke out the competition.

Our Cannabis Branding and Marketing Services

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 79: How Well Do You Understand the Buyer’s Journey?

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Understand The Buyer's Journey Vol 79 Newsletter - Eminent SEO

Get Familiar with the Buyer’s Journey

You’ve probably noticed that consumers today are more cognizant and wary of sales pitches than in decades past. It’s becoming more and more difficult to walk up to a person and try to sell them your product. In fact, approaching them in such a direct manner may ruin any chance of selling them something they otherwise might be interested in.

“Don’t call us; we’ll call you,” might as well be today’s mantra among consumers. This is why it’s so crucial for sales and marketing teams to understand the modern Buyer’s Journey.

Companies may differ on how they interpret today’s buyer’s journey, but at Eminent SEO, we believe it progresses in five distinct steps:

Five Stages Of The Buyers Journey - Eminent SEODo you want to make that sale, after all? Then you have to be patient and feed your target customer the knowledge they need to make that purchase – likely weeks, months or possibly a couple of years down the road.

Once you get a grasp of the buyer’s journey, you will start to determine how long it usually takes to close one of your leads into a sale, and what you need to do along the way. You will also start to figure how to qualify your leads better and provide them with useful resources.

Do You Need Help Converting Leads into Sales?

Our Approach Gets Results

Buyer’s Journey Takeaway

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The buyer’s journey is a long road, and sales teams need to understand that leads don’t close overnight. They also do not want to be sold. A solid strategy requires an integrative sales and marketing nurturing approach.

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Resources to Further Understand the Buyer’s Journey

Understand The Buyer's Journey To Convert Leads Into Sales - Eminent SEO

How to Convert Leads into Sales by Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

See the Full Article

Sales + Marketing = SUCCESS - Eminent SEO

How to Build an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

See the Full Article

Business & Marketing Tips

Here are some simple steps to consider when nurturing leads or developing a lead-nurturing strategy for your sales team:

  1. Segment your leads.
  2. Build a lead-scoring strategy and score your leads.
  3. Develop canned responses for your sales team.
  4. Invest in more targeted content for various buying stages.
  5. Start the conversation.
  6. Remember that less is more (simple landing pages).
  7. Automate as much as possible.
  8. Be timely in your responses.
  9. Be personal.
  10. Align your sales and marketing strategies (see the “Related Reads” section above).

Buyer’s Journey FAQ

Q: In which stage of the buyer’s journey do most Facebook ad referrals fall?

See the Answer

Through Facebook Ads, you can now target users who will then directly message you through Facebook Messenger.

Over the last year, our team has extensively tested this process. What we have found is that most of these leads are in the Awareness or Consideration stages of the buyer’s journey.

This means most people are eager to share the problem they are running into, but they are rarely ready to purchase anything right then and there. This lends credence to the fact you have to nurture your leads and remain patient.

 

Who We Help

The cannabis industry – medical and recreational – is blossoming and becoming quite competitive. So, how can new cannabis dispensaries and businesses raise awareness for their brands and get in front of potential customers?
Cannabis Branding And Marketing Services - ESEO

We Can Help.
Explore Our Professional Cannabis Branding and Marketing Services:

How We Market Cannabis Businesses

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Business Success Guide: Rise and Shine with These Hacks

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Business Success Guide Rise And Shine - Eminent SEO

In an era of ever-changing consumer tastes and preferences, challenges have become the dominant constants in every sector. Industries that hitherto thrived on traditional business methods are now faced with the challenge of business success in the age of competition.

So, which factors scale up productivity and ultimately bring about success? It’s quite straightforward. Rather than dwelling on the setbacks, here are top hacks that can help your business to rise and shine.

Set Up a Business Website

Getting ahead of your competition is no easy task, and when aiming to achieve optimum business success, your to-do list will never end. That said, setting up a business website is one way to stand out from your competition. Don’t take shortcuts. It is imperative to have a website that tells both potential and existing customers that you mean business.

In fact, most consumer business purchase decisions start with a search engine. So, what does this mean for your business? First impressions count. By now, it’s clear that a great business website is crucial for business success.

Improve Workflow Organization

Time tracking and workflow organization allow both management and staff to keep track of projects as well as goal progress. You can optimize and implement a system for tracking employee workloads and responsibilities. If an employee is getting off track, it’s immediately identified, and an opportunity for a timely correction is provided.

Such a system should also facilitate clear communication between employees to allow them to sync their short-term and long-term goals. Also, this type of system should help you look at the business process from the view of a regular employee. From there, you could draft a clearer map of workflow organization.

Utilize Emerging Technologies

Establish Your Brand Quote Danielle Knox - Eminent SEOToday’s ideal workplace involves instant communication and mass access of data and information. Providing employees with the latest technology allows them to perform their duties on time and with minimal effort.

Sure, implementing the latest tech can come at a cost, but consider the outcome. You’ll save countless hours and increase employee productivity. Moreover, online-based tools and technologies reduce cost and improve efficiency. Here are some examples:

  • E-conferencing: Today’s workforce is no longer constrained by geographical boundaries. Innovations in cloud computing and faster internet allow business meetings to go on without being chained to one specific physical location.
  • E-purchasing: Online purchasing is an alternative way to get goods or services from a supplier’s store. While electronic purchasing is extremely competitive, it helps improve customer service, reduce the cost of the transaction and improve profitability.

Keep Employees Happy

So, how do you ensure that your employees are happy? Foster employee empowerment, development and appreciation.

Employee Empowerment

Empowerment entails giving your employees the autonomy to make important decisions. However, note that employee empowerment is not about management relinquishing all authority. Instead, it’s about trusting your staff to make certain decisions based on their individual capabilities.

Employee empowerment fosters a sense of independence in an organization. As a result, the workplace becomes flexible. Staff members are most productive when satisfied, appreciated and indulged in decision making.

Encourage and provide active learning and development for your employees to help them hone their professional skills. This way, they can take on the challenges that come with decision making.

Positive Reinforcement

Set Up Business Website Get One Yesterday Quote - Eminent SEOWhile training and employee empowerment are a great start, you also have to motivate, encourage and reward. A gloomy workplace reduces productivity.

Whatever needs to be done to cheer up your team, do it: Order pizza at work; offer free tea…the list is endless.

Try to show employees that the company is concerned for them. For instance, offer personalized incentives for outstanding individuals.

Collaborating with insurance companies to provide car insurance for employees can be another way of rewarding them.

Remember, when your staff members are motivated, improved productivity is a priority on their to-do list. A study conducted by the University of Warwick indicates that motivated employees are at least 12 percent more productive.

Instill a Continuous Improvement Approach

Improving business success is an ongoing process. As a result, you must set up a flexible plan to help you develop a continuous improvement approach. Start by assessing what successful businesses in your industry do. However, do not copy. Though you might be in the same industry, what works for them might not work for your business.

The next step in establishing a continuous improvement approach is identifying your weaknesses. If you feel that your decision cannot be impartial, seek external help in order to get an objective viewpoint on the areas to improve. After identifying the strengths and weaknesses, look for a breakthrough. Continuous improvement facilitates success without necessarily incurring more cost.

Commit to Excellent Customer Service

Employees are the people behind the scenes of a business’s success. But customers are the focal point of any business. To improve your business success rate, you must focus on both existing and potential customers.

Excellent customer service entails making sure your products and services fulfill the customer’s need. No matter your business niche, you can make customers feel valued and appreciated. Satisfied customers are an asset. Ask for feedback, opinions and suggestions to better fulfill the customer’s (and future customers’) needs.

Take Calculated Risks

Many businesses spend a lot of time trying to predict all possible unfavorable outcomes. But this is nearly impossible. Sometimes, when making business decisions, you might feel like you are in a life-or-death situation. But inaction will prohibit progress and iterations that get your business closer to success.

Always seek to disrupt yourself from your comfort zone and take calculated risks to stay ahead in a dynamic world. Trust your instincts and have grit.

Business Success Guide Final Tip: Embrace Technology and Change

The aforementioned mentioned hacks can result in notable changes in a business’s success. If your business has not embraced technology, it’s time. Technology will allow you to tap into a vast network of connections and exponentially expand your market.

When stakes are higher and the playing field wider, it is imperative that you make your business flexible to change. Seriously assess how your business is currently operating and be open to any potential changes. In other words, always strive to measure your success to see if your business is truly moving forward.

Learn How to Align Your Sales & Marketing Teams

 
Helen Cartwright Writer HeadshotNote: This is a guest blog post written by Helen Cartwright.

See more from Helen at http://www.helencartwright.com/

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 78: Eminent SEO Is Now Taking Cannabis Industry Clients

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Newsletter Vol 78 Marijuana Dispensary Marketing - Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO Can Help with Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., but marketing has still proven to be a challenge for many medical dispensaries. So how can you raise brand awareness and get in front of the right people?

Learn how Eminent SEO is helping companies in the cannabis industry elevate their branding and marketing:

How We Help Cannabis Companies

Message from Our CEO

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“One of the most common mistakes business owners continue to make is not allocating enough budget for marketing. Successful CEOs understand that marketing drives sales and therefore it is not an expense, but rather an investment into the future of their company.” – Jenny Stradling

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Leads and Conversions Are Not Always the Same Thing

As digital marketers, it is our job to help our clients grow their brand presence, develop strong marketing messages and drive qualified leads to their website. However, the marketing process doesn’t end there. Oftentimes, a first-time website visitor is not ready to buy immediately.

By better understanding the buyer’s journey, your team can develop a sales strategy that considers the entire funnel, driving a much higher conversion rate.

The New Marketing And Sales Funnel Pyramid - Eminent SEO

Learn more about converting leads into sales by understanding the buyer’s journey through our recent blog article:

How to Nurture Leads into Sales

Wondering How Long SEO Takes and If It’s Really Worth the Investment?

We wouldn’t be in business if clients didn’t see the benefit and value of SEO. But, we won’t sugarcoat it: SEO is hard work, it takes time and it’s usually a bigger investment on the front end.

However, when you really compare the expense of organic search engine marketing to other digital channels – such as media buys and paid ads – SEO wins every time.

Still not convinced? Let’s let the data to do the talking…

Real SEO Case Study: Transitioning from Google Ads to an Organic SEO Strategy

In October of last year, an addiction recovery center came to us with a huge Google paid ad budget and a cost per admit that was higher than the price of treatment. We transitioned them to an SEO strategy right before the big Google AdWords smackdown, and now look at the data:

Transitioning From Google Ads To Organic SEO Strategy Data - Eminent SEO

This organic SEO traffic would have cost nearly $200K in paid ad costs. We saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars per month on paid ads, and their ongoing organic campaign is a fraction of the cost with a higher conversion rate.

Winning!

Want more examples and a deeper look at the long-term value SEO can provide? Keep reading:

How Long Does SEO Take – Case Studies

Customer Survey on Worst SEO Habits

Bad SEO Habits In 2018 - Eminent SEO

On our Facebook page, we’re currently running a poll that we’d like you to vote in! We’re asking what’s the worst SEO habit you could have as a webmaster in 2018.

The options are:

  1. Creating a new webpage for each keyword variation
  2. Purchasing bulk links from low-quality directories
  3. Never running a backlink audit
  4. Studying tracked keywords only
  5. Not adapting to the constant changes in the industry

In your opinion, which one of those is the worst SEO habit to have? Please comment below.

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Vol. 74: We Will Power Your Brand in 2018

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Eminent SEO Newsletter Power Your Brand in 2018

Time for a Brand Boost

As your business is getting its feet settled in 2018, ask yourself these two questions:

  • How do I know if my current marketing is producing quality leads?
  • What types of additional marketing might I need?

If you don’t have clear answers to these two questions, Eminent SEO can help. We’ll start with a brand audit to let you know what’s already working and where you can make improvements.

If you want to move forward from there, we’ll develop a multi-channel marketing strategy to give your brand a boost on several fronts in 2018. This will help your business in the following areas:

  • Website Traffic and Conversions
  • Organic Search Rankings
  • Paid Ad Conversions
  • Email Blast Opens and Clicks
  • Social Media Interaction
  • Backlink Quality

Explore Our Complete Marketing Services

Good to Know in SEO

There are several pertinent SEO developments that we must share. Net neutrality certainly must be addressed. Keep your SEO knowledge current by perusing these three articles:

Business & Marketing Tips

It may be one of the older digital marketing channels, but it remains one of the most fruitful for businesses. You’ve got to do it right, though. Check out this email marketing tip from our CEO, Jenny Stradling:

Jenny Stradling Email Marketing Quote - Eminent SEO

Highlights from the Eminent SEO Blog

A recent survey revealed just how many businesses are currently trying their hand at content marketing. The number is only going to grow, so here are 3 tips on fine-tuning your strategy and setting it apart from the competition in 2018.

Read more…

Keep Content Marketing Strategy Fresh For 2018 - Eminent SEO

As for one last SEO development, our very own Zach Ankeny wrote about a recent change he noticed in Google’s search engine results pages, specifically pertaining to rich snippets and knowledge graphs. Will these changes affect your website?

Read more…

Google Neon Lights - ESEO

Happy new year from the Eminent team! Until next month’s newsletter, we invite you to visit our blog or stay in touch with us via social media (see the icons below) .

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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