Category Archives: Blog

SEM or Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing is one of the things we do best here at Windy City Strategies.  But sometimes, people don’t exactly know what that is.  So this blog post is to help explain it to our clients who may not know for sure.

A search engine is something going to www.google.com and putting in a search term like “Chinese Food” in the search bar, or searching for something on the web on Yahoo, or Bing.  Google is the most popular search engine, so we will use this as our example.

According to Google:  “The primary objective of any search engine is to help users find the information, products or services they’re looking for online, quickly and accurately. When the user types a word or phrase, called a query, into the search engine, a set of results that are relevant to the query is displayed.”

So- if you wanted to find a law firm in Crystal Lake- you might type in the search field “Law Firm, Crystal Lake”.

Windy City Strategies provides consultation and services in all areas of Search Engine Marketing-

The shaded area at the top of the page is called Pay-Per-Click advertising- this is a paid section, where your advertising will be posted to the top of the search engine.

The paid results are in the pink area, and the organic  (or Google selected) results are in the green area.  You will notice that there are local listings first in this green area.  That is the location portion of Google’s results- which displays local results from where your computer is searching from.

Windy City Strategies will help your business soar in the ultra-competitive web marketplace through our proven Internet marketing campaigns. We manage Google, Yahoo, and Bing accounts and we offer pay per click campaign management services as well as search engine optimization, website development, and internet marketing consultation. Please contact us for a free proposal and analysis.

Facebook Earnings Increase

Facebook has had a major increase with many people using this website, but it still has to grow in both numbers of users and revenue. The major reason Facebook has seen a decrease is from people accessing Facebook on a mobile device, rather than using it on a desktop computer.

Facebook recently released their second quarter earnings for the year and the findings reveal that the number of active mobile users have increased by 51% over the last year to 819 million monthly users. Ever since Facebook updated its strategy in mobile advertising, there have been more that 1 million active advertisers, many of them including local businesses. This creates a great opportunity for not only these companies but a little bit of hope for our economy.

As for advertising, the numbers shot through the roof with an astounding $1.8 billion in revenue, which is a 61% increase from last year.  Almost half of the money that was earned from advertising, which was $1.6 billion, came from mobile advertising.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “People on average are spending more time on Facebook than ever before.” The numbers are there to prove it, showing that users spent over 20 billion minutes on Facebook during the month of June.

For more information about Facebook for your business, contact Windy City Strategies.

Website Consistency is Imperative to Success

Imagine you are traveling the world and are hopping from country to country every week, spending your time exploring the cities and lifestyles. This trip would be great if it were not for the fact that every country has a different currency. This one, minute discrepancy poses a large issue that can potentially halt your entire adventure and destroy all your plans.

This same issue is found in web design all the time. Website owners and designers seem to enjoy letting their “creative juices” flow too much, making for a difficult and unpleasant user experience due to large variations in design.

To avoid this catastrophic issue – lacking consistency – there are several things your website should incorporate into its design to make for a fun and pleasant user experience.

Verbiage/Wording

When you are advertising for your business, it’s important to stay consistent with the titles of your products and services you offer. If you are selling a simple, wooden door, call it just that. Perhaps throw in the type of wood and of course the dimensions, but stick with that naming. Do not veer away from it; a “majestic opening and closing mechanism” is not a proper name for that product.

Menus and UI Elements

Typically, web designers try to create the most visually appealing website they can, which often means they will have to “spice up” the drop down menus and UI elements, ultimately making for sluggish loading times and a laggy user experience.

The choice to enhance the elements is rarely a good one, so be sure to consult your designer and web designer and ask for their opinions prior to adding these elements to your website. You want a fast website that keeps its visitors, not a website where the visitors are driven away due to a poor element.

Layout

Similar to the menus and UI elements, your website’s layout plays an integral role in attracting customers. Not only does it have to be a smooth design, but it also has to look similar and follow the common website design rules: navigation bar at the top, title/company name in the upper left, search bar in the upper right, content for the main page, and contact information with a general sitemap as the footer.

General Consistency

Putting all the nitty-gritty bits and pieces of websites aside, it’s important to maintain an overall feeling of consistency. If you have a modern home page, then the rest of the website should also be designed with a modern aesthetic. Maintain the same color palette, open links that take the user to a third party’s site in a new tab, etc.

Ensuring your website’s visitors have an enjoyable experience and are able to easily navigate throughout your website is crucial, yet an area that is often overlooked by designers. Humans like consistency – it’s wired into our brains – so take advantage of our instinctual traits to leverage your business. If you would like assistance developing your website, be sure to contact us at Windy City Web Designs to make for a beautiful and elegant website.

Why a Redesign May be Necessary

Every successful business owner knows that developing a strong website properly selling your products or services plays an intricate role in attracting a new and loyal customer base. From being found through search engines, having easy navigation, to representing your brand and its products, a website is pivotal to your business’s success.

If your website is proving to be a barrier for your business, you should consider these benefits and possibilities of redesigning your website.

Better attract customers: When Google or the various other search engines are ranking websites, they take a lot of things into account, but the important thing to know is that updating your website improves your online presence to gain more customers.

Modernize your website: Everything nowadays should be “modern” – sleek and elegant websites are the best way to attract new customers. Stay with the times and keep your website up to date.

Integrate social media: One of the most powerful aspects of the internet is social media and the ludicrous amount of exposure any company can get. When you properly integrate your social media accounts into your website, you will be able to easily spread your message and products.

Stay competitive: The importance of staying competitive in your business’s field cannot be emphasized enough. If even one part of your business begins to fall behind, your entire business will take the load as well. Be sure to have a competitive website to properly sell your products and brands.

Running a website can be a very difficult task for business owners, but the importance of having a new and updated website cannot be emphasized enough. If you ever have any questions or would like to talk with a professional, contact us at any time and we’ll quickly get back to you.

Why your Website Needs HTTPS

Ever since Google announced a couple years ago that the security of your website will affect its rankings on Google, there has been a huge push to get SSL (secured socket layer) on websites who previously used HTTP. If you are unaware of what HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) does, here’s a brief summary: in essence, HTTP is the format in which all data is sent across the general internet (excluding the deep web, for obvious reasons). This format breaks apart the data being sent into small pieces called packets, which are then sent to many servers and computers until the information reaches the correct IP address.

This method of data transfer has been around for ages, nearly since the beginning of the internet. However, HTTP easily allows for a middle man, an attacker, to gain access to the data being sent. For obvious security reasons, most people don’t want their sensitive information to be looked at by anonymous third parties. This is where HTTPS and SSL come into play. SSL, as mentioned earlier, is the standard for setting up a strongly encrypted link between a web server and a web browser/computer.

In order to ensure the data is truly being sent through an SSL secured website, the website URL will display https://yourwebsite.com rather than http://yourwebsite.com. This additional layer of security creates a peace of mind for most users online.

Not only is Google cracking down on websites that have yet to get an SSL certificate, but so are payment authorization companies. Most websites will not be allowed to take credit card information – or any private information – unless the website is fully encrypted through the use of an SSL certificate.

If the vast majority of the previous information flew right over your head, here’s what you should take away: in order for your website to be ranked higher on Google, and therefore be seen by many more people, it is important to get an SSL certificate which will fully encrypt your website and reduce the risk of your website being hacked and your user’s information stolen. If you have any questions or would like to get a quote for the services you are looking for, feel free to contact us at Windy City Strategies, and we’ll promptly get back to you.

How to find the Right Keywords

Perfecting your client base is crucial to your success and the overall growth of your business. The best way to do so is by consistently updating your keywords used for your advertisement campaigns and SEO titles and descriptions. To properly ensure you are going about the process correctly, there are a couple tips and tricks you should keep in mind.

  • Test Keywords with PPC: In order to properly understand how your keywords are being looked at and processed, you should use some of your pay per click campaign budget towards keyword testing. When you do this, you will spend a little now to gain a lot later.
    • To properly do this, you should begin with broader terms you feel might apply to your business and then slowly work your way into more narrow and specific terms. If your business sells fake flowers, begin with broad flower terms and work your way into more specific names and colors.
  • Compare Keywords: One thing many advertisement campaigns fail to do is compare keywords against one another. Once you have a list of relatively effective words you plan on using, begin to sort your advertisements by playing with the synergy of the words and their context.
  • Know your Audience: Understanding what demographics your advertisements and business is targeting is crucial to determining which keywords will be most effective. If you are selling professional grade laptops, you will likely not want to have children or the elderly viewing your advertisements.
  • Control the Websites: When you are running advertisement campaigns, you will typically have control over which websites you do and do not want your advertisements to show up on. This is known as whitelisting and blacklisting, a technique that proves time and time again to be very effective in more efficiently targeting possible clients.

Having the ability to control who sees your advertisements and when they see it is crucial to building an effective advertisement campaign. If you have any questions or would like to become better versed in developing a powerful advertisement campaign, be sure to contact us at Windy City Strategies.

How Efficient Is Your Ad-Targeting?

The best way to get your business name out on the internet is through direct ad-targeting; it is imperative that you push your services and products towards the correct audience, however, it is very common for your ads to be targeted toward the wrong people.

To ensure your business is not wasting money trying to attract the wrong clients, you should take several steps to better target your advertisements.

  • Keywords: Nearly all advertisement agencies enter keywords into a complex algorithm to identify which websites your ads should be posted on. The keywords you submit are the MOST important part of your ad-targeting campaign, a detail that cannot be stressed enough. You must evaluate what your business is, what services or products you are trying to sell, and whether or not your pricing is appropriate for the audiences you are targeting.
  • Advertisement Efficiency: If you use a service such as Google’s Adsense, then you have access to a wide array of unique tools to better target your advertisements. One of the most important tools focuses on the efficiency of your campaign: the number of people clicking on your ads versus the number of people not clicking or viewing your ads. This number is the best way to determine whether your ad-targeting is working or not and should be looked at on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Whitelisted Websites: Finally, it is crucial to your business’ advertisements’ success that they are being displayed on the proper websites. If you are a technology company, it is unlikely you would want any of your ads being displayed on a website promoting the Amish way of life, it’s that simple. You must ensure your advertisements are being displayed on appropriate sites for your goals to be met.

If you or your business have any questions, be sure to contact us to begin your business’ successful future.

Successfully Market Your Business Online

In today’s marketing world, having an online presence is absolutely necessary. And while your Internet marketing strategy might not be the same as anyone else’s, there are some common strategies when it comes to having an online presence.

In order to successfully market your business, consider following these helpful tips:

  • Build traffic. Simply by having a good content marketing strategy in place, you can increase traffic to your website, which can help boost your sales.
  • Utilize social media. Are you utilizing social media to your business’s advantage? If not, it is critical that you do. Not only will social media put your brand out there for everyone to see, but you can make your visitor’s experience a more customized one, which often will have them coming back to your website for more.
  • Keep up with the marketing world. The world of Internet marketing is always changing, making it essential that you are staying on top of today’s online marketing trends, especially when you want to stay relevant with your customers.
  • Start a blog. Blogs have quickly gained popularity in helping you to gain an online presence. However, it is critical that you are only blogging about relevant content, since things such as length and quality of content can play a big role in the success of your blog.
  • Seek the help from a professional. Many entrepreneurs do not understand how to market their business online. So why not utilize the services of a professional Internet marketing firm? Not only can they help to customize a marketing strategy that fits your business’s specific needs, but they can do it all for you.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can successfully market your business online, then contact Windy City Strategies for more information today.

Helpful Tips To Make Your Blog Successful And Effective

Writing a blog for your business has become an effective way to market your brand. In order to help your blog to be successful and effective, Windy City Strategies has some helpful information and tips for you.

Blog often. Writing as little as one blog per week, to as many as one per day, will help boost your online traffic, bringing more visitors to your website. In order for your blog to be effective, be sure keep your blog content updated with new information, preventing you from dropping in the search engine rankings with Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Create links. Using links within your blog posts will help you get picked up by these search engines and gives you the opportunity to link back to the home page of your company’s website. The higher you are on the search engine rankings list the more likely it is for customers to find you.

Create pages. Every time you post a blog article on your website, that means there is one more indexed page being added to your site. This will give you an increased opportunity for you to, once again, rank higher in the search engines.

Switch up the content. Talking about different topics, providing helpful tips, or writing a DIY tutorial, are all ways to keep your blog interesting to the reader. By sharing this information, it not only helps the customer by reading about your expertise on the topic, but it helps you increase your visibility online.

Connect with your customers. A blog allows your customers the ability to see a side of you or your company that they otherwise wouldn’t have seen. If you personalize the words you share in each blog, it gives customers a chance to see that you’re not just a company, and that there are people behind that company to make it possible.

Keep it interesting and engaging. In order for the reader and to know enough information about your topic, you must keep your blog interesting and informational. Writing an effective blog that leaves the reader wanting to know more is a writing style to strive for.

For more information on how to create an effective and successful blog for your website, contact Windy City Strategies today!