Hospitality Social Media: What's Often Missed


As I thought about writing this article and what I really wanted to say, I came to the conclusion that I did not want to write the low hanging fruit article that we see everywhere - “Tips To Improve Your Hotel’s Social Media”. It’s always written by someone who has never worked in a hotel.  I was procrastinating because I didn’t want to be that guy.  Well, I couldn’t exactly because I have been a hotelier, a California hotelier.  I wanted to provide real value to eMaximize readers and take a deep meaningful dive into the purpose of social media for the hospitality industry.

Sure, like all aspects of operating a hotel there are best practices for social media and they are effective. But amidst all the tips and strategies that digital agencies explain to hoteliers, there is an underlying role for social media that is often missed.  It is missed because hoteliers are so busy managing so many things that they don’t have time to think about why they are doing something; they just do it properly and quickly, then move on to the next task.  The life of running a 24/7 business serving the public.

The purpose of social media is not to drive traffic to your website to foster a conversion. A conversion is an action on your website that digital marketers measure as, well, a good thing. In this case the conversion is a reservation.  Acquiring reservations is function of, or a wishful reaction by hoteliers but not the primary purpose of social media. Social media is where you communicate with your customers in a casual place when they are NOT at your hotel, and that is a wonderful thing. It’s also a place where you can attract new customers, so you better act like you are at a cocktail party where you don’t know anybody.  Be fun, charming, informative and above all, be polite.

Its digital agencies that are changing the way hoteliers view and use social media. This is mostly because the agencies are doing the work, writing the articles, and have a different goal – increase revenue to protect their engagement.  Lost in the process are the wonderful aspects of communicating with your guests in a casual environment with engaging imagery.  Gaining followers and increasing direct bookings is not the goal. The goal is to create the cocktail party that everybody wants to come to and nobody wants to leave.  That should be the goal of every hotelier’s social media strategy. The direct bookings will follow. 

Hoteliers should think about social media as an opportunity to pull new fans rather than push specials on existing followers.  Social media is not a place to shove your specials and rates on visitors.  You wouldn’t do that in the lobby of your hotel and you shouldn’t do it on social media. If you were constantly reading your resume at a cocktail party, you would soon find yourself alone. You want to use social media to attract followers and guests with your charm, imagery and wit.  Think of it more of an invitation than an advertising billboard. Create the cool persona that your hotel embodies and rock it on social media as often as possible.

Now all of this sounds so easy, but I understand it’s not.  It’s like describing what style is, it’s hard to explain but you know it when you see it.  So, for the traditionalists that prefer to read tips, I will leave you with seven recommendations to up your social media game.  

  • Always, always use quality images

  • Your posts should often contain imagery that was staged.

  • Make a real effort with social media, its important.

  • Make use of video. People dig small video clips.

  • Pull followers; Dont push specials

  • Use people in your photos. People like people.

  • Research and use effective hashtags

Thanks for Reading!

For more information how we can help your business, simply complete the contact form on our home page.

"eMaximize is recognized as a top California Digital Marketing Agency on DesignRush” 

eMaximize Recognized as Top Los Angeles Digital Agency


Smart businesses market themselves, sharing who they are and what they have to offer. But the most successful businesses harness the internet to share their stories to a targeted audience at blinding speeds.

Trying to reach potential customers can be daunting for most small businesses. The tools have becoming increasingly complex and the world wide web has become saturated with noise.

But that’s where eMaximize comes in; we are a team of digital experts who understand the importance of a strong online presence.  We make sure that businesses don’t have to go it alone on their journey to be noticed, and we ourselves have been noticed for these efforts.


It is with great excitement we share that we have been named an industry leader among the top digital marketing agencies in Los Angeles in its Top California Service Providers report. This title was given to us by Clutch, a B2B services platform that identifies top service providers in several markets to help businesses make smarter buying and hiring decisions.

After conducting client interviews and market research, Clutch ranked eMaximize 7th overall among the top digital marketing agencies in LA, outranking more than 750 agencies!

In addition to our recognition as a digital marketing agency, we have been recognized for our SEO services. The Manifest, Clutch’s sister-site featured us as one of the top SEO services companies in LA. The Manifest is a resource that provides insights to businesses to help them recognize, understand, and solve their challenges.

But most importantly, our clients have also shared their experiences working with us. When asked what they found impressive about eMaximize, one client said,

Their speed, responsiveness, effectiveness, and execution were keys to our success. We really like the individual attention they pay us, as if we’re one of their only clients.

Check out our profile on Clutch to read the full review and what else our clients are saying about us. Our clients are our priority, and to know that they value our services is priceless.

Choosing The Right Digital Agency For Your Business


Navigating the world of digital marketing is a daunting task for most business owners whose time is already spread thin. Many need a trustworthy and competent digital partner to manage their online marketing needs. The increase in the number of digital agencies in recent years has made choosing the right one a difficult task. It doesn’t help that many of these agencies have little experience and are learning on the fly.

Choosing the right digital partner is crucial to your bottom line. The wrong one can quickly drain your budget and negatively impact your branding. So, here is my recommended strategy for finding a digital marketing agency that can help your business grow.

Understand your needs and your budget.

The first step in the process is understanding your needs. The better you can describe your business needs in terms of website, search engine optimization (SEO), advertising, social media and graphic design, the better your conversations will be with prospective digital agencies.

You should also understand your budget and what you are willing to spend. There is no set price -- you are not buying a radiator for your car. A good marketer should be able to work with any reasonable budget and set your expectations accordingly. For instance, a restaurant is going to have a large amount of social media work and not much advertising, while a plumbing business typically has a high spend on advertising and low social media needs.

Understanding your needs and budget is the first step in choosing the right digital marketing agency.  

Demand full transparency.

Lack of transparency is the most basic and also the most overlooked red flag. Review an agency’s website and, if you don’t see an address, bios and a client list, then this agency is likely not worth your time. If an agency looks like it is hiding something, then it probably is. It’s that simple. For example, there are many offshore agencies making big promises with cheap rates.

Most of our clients come to us immediately after a bad experience, and more often than not, there is little information on the websites of their previous agencies. Full transparency should be the first criterion when choosing the right digital agency for your business.

Credibility is important.

Be sure to determine the agency’s credibility and experience. Read through client testimonials on its website and review sites like Clutch, Expertise and even Yelp. Do the testimonials seem authentic?

Ask for client references, including one from an account that did not go so well. All agencies have had engagements that did not go so well, and it’s important to get an idea of how they dealt with them in addition to recommendations from the good ones. Call these references instead of sending an email -- you will be surprised by how much more information you can obtain from a phone call.

Finally, does the agency have a decent website? Does the website appear high in search results, indicating its SEO acumen? Are its social media pages properly maintained and with quality content?

Industry experience can be misleading.

Does the agency have experience in your industry? If it does, then ask about those engagements, what went well and what was challenging. If it does not, this is not a red flag. Instead, ask how it approaches a new industry.

We have seen many industry-specific agencies go with a cookie-cutter approach, and we often see this in remnants of code and content indicating use for other businesses. Many times, a fresh set of eyes and a new approach is needed to unlock a stagnant marketing strategy. A good marketer can evaluate a client’s industry, online presence and competitors and devise an effective strategy.

Consider the client, agency and technical sides.

Most marketers talk about the client and agency sides. You are either on one side or the other. But there is a third side that is often overlooked and often the most important: the technical side.

Understanding website development technologies is critical to any marketing strategy. The website is your mothership and must be built and hosted properly. Ask your potential account manager what sides of this triad they have had past working experiences. If their career has taken them to all three, jackpot! They most likely have a well-rounded view of digital marketing.

Account managers that have had experience working on both the client and agency sides have an advantage in developing digital strategies because of their operational experience. Thinking outside the box is very important in digital marketing and innovative ideas often derive from operational experiences.

Give Them The Beer Test

Once you have shortened your list to only the legitimate contenders, ask yourself what you really want from this relationship. Everybody wants something a little different from their agency relationship. Marketing is supposed to be fun for business owners who are doing all the mundane operational tasks needed to run their business. So, choose an agency that aligns with your personality and availability and is also fun to work with.

I was once hired as a chief information officer for a billion dollar organization, and I asked my boss why I was chosen over some heavy hitters in the industry, as I was relatively young. He told me, “I like to hire people with a degree in mathematics and who also pass my beer test.” When I asked what that meant, he said, “At the end of the day, I ask myself if I want to have a beer with this person.” I told him I have been told that before :) 

The point here is a good one and it’s transferable to the client-agency relationship. From my perspective, the most important factors in choosing a digital marketing partner are 1) can they do the job, and 2) do you like working with them? In the end, that’s all that matters.

Thanks For Reading! 

Major Facebook Algorithm Change - Organic Reach Is Dead


Last week Facebook created mass hysteria in the marketing world when they announced a change to their algorithm to promote more personal content rather than news (and alternative news)Facebook is changing its news feed to prioritize what friends and family share.  This is good news for many as the content they see from brands and publishers that they don't follow will decline.

“We're making a major change to how we build Facebook,” Zuckerberg said in his post. “I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”
“We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people's well-being,” he added.  

(um ... buh bye Breitbart!)

Facebook states that "public content" or unpaid posts from business pages has exceeded the volume of posts by people.  Savvy media companies were gaming the system and creating viral content for free. This shift has detracted from Facebook’s core mission according to Zuckerberg. The company said the changes are expected to cause the reach and traffic of media organizations to decline as a whole.  This is good news for many people who are tired of seeing garbage in their news feed.  How it impacts big brands and their big budgets remains to be seen.

We believe it will be challenging for many brands to compete for valuable newsfeed real estate against family photos & videos.  Skittles for instance has a huge viral following. They never needed to pay to "Boost" posts for instance. It will be interesting to see how their posts are impacted.  Lifestyle brands that look to add value to people’s lives like Toms, Duraflame & Unilever may have the easiest path navigating Facebook's major organic algorithm change.

Because we all live on the outside, unaware of the secret sauce at Facebook, (don't let anyone tell you different), much of the impact remains to be seen. However it really seems like they are returning to being a social network rather than a news outlet. This is especially since they got caught with their pants down collecting Russian dollars to push out bogus political news stories to millions of Americans during the past election. This algorithm change looks like a step to get back to their roots as a social platform and not a news outlet.  More posts about pets not Pakistan.

How This Impacts Your business

If you own a small business such as consultant, photographer or musician you should definitely start posting more to your personal page than your business page. You probably already are.  Facebook clearly is giving less scrutiny and more reach to family and friend posts than business posts.  

If you own a larger business like a restaurant, hotel, medical office than you want to evaluate your overall advertising budget and start shifting budget to paid Facebook advertising.  You want to stop "Boosting" posts and seek the help of a digital advertising agency to create engaging & effective Facebook Ad Campaigns.  Boosting posts has only been effective at taking money out of your wallet.  Now more than ever, cleverly crafted Facebook advertising campaigns will be the only paid posts that are effective for businesses.  

Thanks For Reading!  

Successful Digital Marketing For Restaurants

Published on Sep 15, 2017

Running a restaurant in today’s digital world can be a daunting task, even for the most seasoned restaurant owner. The explosive growth of social media and smartphones allows your target audience to see and criticize your every move. Yelp certainly doesn’t help matters by allowing everyone – particularly millennials – the opportunity to shred your business without any validation because they didn’t have a “DopeAF” time. Operating a restaurant has become as much about playing defense as it is about providing great food and atmosphere. This is why a savvy digital marketing strategy is critical to increasing revenue.

Your Website Must Be Fully Baked

A restaurant website does not have to be robust but it has to be well thought out and 100% functional. So many of our restaurant clients come to us with websites that are not optimized for mobile. The phone numbers can’t be clicked, menus cannot be downloaded and there are blurry images. Having a poor restaurant website is like having a bland Bolognese in an Italian restaurant – it’s the cornerstone of everything. You want people to land on your website and make a reservation or walk in; it’s that simple.

Your restaurant website should have vertical sections so people can easily scroll to find pertinent information for your restaurant – contact info, menus, hours and a photo gallery. The restaurant industry is at the top of the list when it comes to the most mobile traffic, therefore it makes sense to design your website through the lens of a smart phone.

Own Your Google Maps Listing

This could be the biggest factor in getting your restaurant on the coveted page one of Google's search results. Google displays what is called a "Local 3-Pack" when you search, for example, for “seafood restaurant in [city].” The Local 3-Pack comes ahead of the search results with a map and three listings – prime real estate! There are many factors that Google weighs to determine which restaurants to display in the Local 3-Pack and it's always changing. Moz reports proximity being one of the largest factors at only 19%; Google reviews account for 13% weight, according to Moz.

One thing is for sure: owning your Google business listing helps gain visibility for your restaurant. Secure your listing and make sure all the information is accurate. You can go to Google My Business to start the process.

Social Media For Restaurants

A good social media strategy is integral to a successful restaurant marketing strategy. Everybody knows that. What they don’t know is how to execute it. Too many restaurants turn over their social media to whoever wants to do it. This often results in neglected pages, rushed posts, mediocre images and slow follower growth. As I mentioned earlier, social media is way too important to pawn off on someone who likes to do it. You need someone who knows how to do it and has time to do it properly or otherwise hire a restaurant marketing agency.

Social media is where you talk to your regular customers and where you market your restaurant to new customers. It needs to be taken seriously. Some of the common mistakes we see include:

  • Connecting Facebook and Instagram accounts
  • Placing your social media feed on your website
  • Using lots of hashtags on Facebook
  • Not establishing a system to generate new photos every month
  • Marketing to a national audience vs. a local targeted audience

Social media is not terribly complex, but it needs to be thought out and properly executed to be effective.

Email Marketing - Don't Call It A Comeback

Email marketing is the most resilient form of digital marketing. It was abandoned a decade ago when spam became a big problem. It was left for dead again when Facebook went through historic growth and became an easy way to connect with your customers. Then there was another shift when Facebook started to severely limit how many followers see your posts and started asking you to "boost" your posts to a wider audience for a fee. That is how email marketing was resuscitated once again.

As a restaurant owner, you are entitled and expected to send specials, event information and new menu items to all your customers for free. MailChimp allows you to use its email marketing platform for free for up to 2,000 contacts. And as we've previously written, click-through rates are significantly better on email than on social media.

Of course, email marketing is only as good as the email addresses you have collected, and perhaps that is why many restaurants neglect it. There is an easy way without bothering your guests; forget about the old tired strategy of collecting business cards in a fishbowl and having a weekly drawing for a free appetizer. Now you can install Wi-Fi that will ask your guests for their email address instead of a password to gain access.

In Closing

Digital marketing for restaurants is getting more and more complex.  If you focus on your customers and the strategies mentioned above, you can really make a difference on your bottom line. However, the best digital marketing strategy still cannot move the needle as much as great food, excellent customer service and a clean ladies room :) 

Thanks For Reading! 

Simplifying Digital Marketing For Hotels

Published on Jun 1, 2017
Standard Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles

Standard Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles

Marketing hotels is like selling chocolate in a busy shopping mall: Every customer has different tastes. We see too many hoteliers getting caught up in the latest trends or buzz words like "big data" or "content marketing" instead of simply executing guest preferences and blogging.  This often causes hoteliers to overthink their marketing budget and engage in complex strategies while they still have an automated attendant answering their phone or a call center in Canada pretending to be the front desk. It's time to get back to the basics and focus on what’s important – your guests.

Guest Booking Experience

I once heard a brilliant statement about business: “The most important aspect of business is sales, everything else is just noise.” This is not a literal statement, but the point is genuine and can be applied to hospitality.

The booking experience is the most important aspect of selling a hotel room. Statistic Brain reports that 57% of hotel bookings occur online. That is an overwhelming number. Imagine if you owned a bakery and over half of your revenue came from catering; you would certainly want to make sure your catering processes were on point.

A major piece of the online booking experience is your website's homepage. Surprisingly, so many homepages are confusing and cause the guest to work too hard to book a room. Hotels need to get with the program on web design; people do not want to click on "accommodations," "amenities" or "location" and wait for a page to load. It’s not just millennials who want to easily scroll to see this information – it's all 2.3 billion smartphone users. Scrolling clearly translates well to mobile devices and provides a much simpler navigation.

An effective hotel homepage will have sections that you can scroll to find the critical information you need to book a room. Visitors want to see the exterior, the rooms, qualifying data like testimonials or ratings, as well as the reservation box. This has not changed in the past decade; it's just now that it should all be on the homepage so it can be better formatted for mobile device traffic.

Hotels must also be careful about placing social media content in the form of a widget on their homepage. The last thing you want to do is interrupt the booking process by driving customers to Facebook. Once they go to your hotel Facebook page, they see their own notifications and then they are off to the races and forgot what they were doing – booking a room on your site.

Placing a social media widget on your homepage is not good practice as I see it. However, it is important to show your social media icons, as many visitors will want to visit your social media pages to get a better sense of your brand.

The Dirty Truth About SEO

Hotels were some of the early adopters of SEO practices around 2003. Back then, you could simply place keywords in a non-visible tag on your homepage and Google would index your hotel for those keywords in a couple of months. But everything is different now, and the Google algorithm indexes changes to your site within days. Google uses its artificial intelligence RankBrain to determine search results with unbelievable predictive accuracy. Businesses now have much less control over their search rankings as on-page SEO tactics carry less weight. The good part is that SEO is much less work and hotel executives should be shifting their SEO budget to other digital marketing strategies, like social media.

Social Media And Hospitality

Social media is another area where hoteliers get caught up in trends, like Snapchat being the fastest-growing social media network. That statement might hold true, but Snapchat is not even in the top 10 social networking sites by market share of visits. Facebook is by far the leader, with about 40% market share. Instead of getting caught up in trends, cast your net in the pond with the most fish.

The experts also tell hoteliers they must spend thousands of dollars creating videos, because 66% of travelers watched travel-related videos before booking their trip and videos give people a better sense of authenticity. Of course, people are watching videos about their destinations, but can we really apply that same logic to a video of a general manager walking through a hotel lobby? We might be able to, but the point is to stay in your lane and become proficient with the basics first. Video marketing is complex; for instance, did you know that 85% of Facebook videos are viewed without sound?

Where hotels can improve their social media game:

  • Embrace Facebook and Instagram. You don’t have to be on every social media platform, but you should be on both of these. New guests look at these pages to see if they are active. If they are not, they might wonder what else is being neglected at the hotel.
  • Increase your follower count. Many hotels don't even notice their number of followers. If you only have a few hundred followers, then your efforts are moot.
  • Assign dedicated resources to social media. Social media is too important for hotels to assign to a sales coordinator who has other duties. You must have someone with a sense of style, humor and branding coupled with some graphic design and photography skills. This is the highest form of branding. Somebody smart needs to be at the helm; otherwise, outsource.
  • Create a social media-friendly environment. Hotels need to create places that are social media-friendly to capture that “Instagram moment.” A cool mural, water fountain or large photo of the Hollywood sign – something that will excite people to take a photo and post, saying “Hey everyone, look where I am.” If you can accomplish this, then you have an army of guests promoting your hotel for free.

These are exciting times for hospitality with cool marketing channels and opportunities, but also the time of some real threats in the form of Airbnb and VRBO. Now more than ever, hotels need to be transparent and genuine, removing all barriers in the booking process and getting cozy with their guests – after all, they are expecting it.

See our work for this Downtown San Jose Hotel

eMaximize Named a Top Los Angeles Digital Agency

We are super stoked to be named a Top 18 Digital Marketing Agency in Los Angeles out of 907 agencies reviewed by Expertise.   Expertise aims to create lists of the best local professionals in each US city to give their readers the confidence they need to make the right choice.  Their process is as follows

Expertise graded each agency on 25 variables across five judgment criteria and we stood strong against some heavy hitters and blew away the rest.  The categories rated we were rated are as follows:

A history of delighted customers as a signal of outstanding service.
Building customer confidence with licensing, industry accreditation, and awards.
Masters of their craft, based on years of practical experience and education.
Consistently approachable and responsive, so customers never feel ignored.
Providing customers a seamless experience both online and off.




Five Signs YOU May Need A New Digital marketing Partner

When To Hire A Digital Marketing Agency

They say in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king. Often this is the case when it comes to choosing your digital marketing partner. There are a lot of one eyed agencies that know just enough to hurt your wallet and your business.  They are tarnishing the industry and taking advantage of small business owners.

Here are five signs that you may need to look for a new digital marketing agency.

1. They Don’t Explain Their Process

A digital agency that doesn't explain its process is suspect. In fact, any business partner that does not explain their process is suspect. They could be engaging in black hat techniques, trying to fool Google or generating fake clicks to your site.

Remember what Einstein said - If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Google "tech-speak" is often the default tool for the misinformed. Get your agency to tell you exactly what they’re doing. If they can’t do it, be skeptical. Our goal at eMaximize is to be as clear and upfront so that our partnership will be successful.

2.  They Are Concerned About Their Own Metrics

If your SEO agency is constantly showing you linking and ranking reports and the obscure Facebook metric called “Reach”, that is a sign they do not understand why you hired them.  Your digital agency is supposed to increase revenue and generate new customers with your marketing budget, period.

A good digital agency will have a firm understanding of your website traffic, how much is coming from mobile, new visitors vs. returning and your most popular content.  They should also ask you about call volume, sales & new customer growth.  This is why you hired them.  If they constantly bury you in reports of links, tags & rankings then you should be concerned.

Here is an example.  Say you own a hotel and your agency says that you rank in the first position for “Hotel El Segundo”.  Wow that’s great you are thinking.  What they are not sharing with you is that you are on page 5 for “Hotel Near LAX” , which is searched 4000 times per month more than the previous keyword.

3. They Don’t Understand Algorithm Changes

The best digital marketers completely understand Google Algorithm changes. If your agency doesn’t know who Matt Cutts is or how many times the Google Algorithm is updated per year, then they are not staying current.

The reason why so many SEO companies have disappeared is because they failed to adapt to algorithm changes.  If your agency is still stuffing keywords into meta tags, please tell them all search engines dropped keywords from their algorithms about eight years ago. Don't get caught up in rankings, get caught up in lead generation & conversions or sales.

4. They Provide No Strategic Consultation

A good digital agency will meet with you at least every 2 months to discuss any changes to your business. They will want to understand call volume, new customers, new products, procedures or events.

Digital marketing or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) now involves content marketing, social media marketing and branding. Your agency needs to understand your voice, your customers and your customer acquisition process.  They should be concerned with the ROI on your ad spend and conversions. They should also be leveraging experiences from their other clients on ad campaigns, geo targeting or anything.

5. They’re A One-Trick Pony

Your agency should be able to provide more for you than just SEO or PPC or Social Media.  A good digital marketing agency should be able to do all three, plus graphic design, email marketing & website development.  They are all critical in supporting any digital marketing efforts.  The more you have to find these resources on your own, the less valuable your agency is.  You should be calling your agency with an idea, within a couple days they should have a graphic with suggested marketing channels to implement. In an age where digital marketing is critical to almost all businesses, you need an agency that has a wide set of skills and knowledge, because your competitors do.


Digital Marketing is not rocket science. It takes a strong understanding of The Internet and the tools to create and promote websites, all of which are changing at a very fast pace.  When you do find a good agency, stick with them. Treat them like a business partner. They can free up a lot of time for you, increase revenues and expand your business ... and you dont have to pay for their healthcare :) 

Thanks For Reading!

5 Questions To Ask When Hiring SEO Services

SEO Agency Los Angeles

The SEO industry has evolved almost as much as the Google algorithm itself in recent years, but at times it can still appear shady and pay-to-play. This is unfortunate because there are so many good analysts that truly understand the complexity of SEO and offer valuable services.  These folks pale in comparison to the countless crooked agencies and unqualified consultants selling SEO services to honest business owners. If you’re thinking about working with an SEO Agency it’s important that you do some research to ensure you are working with good people. We really do exist!

Here are some common questions to ask an SEO Provider which should flush out the pretenders from the contenders.


Any reputable SEO, (Social Media or Web Development) company will have their address listed on their website.  If there is no address listed on the website, keep shopping for a new SEO Agency. That is the first sign something may not be on the up and up.   In addition they should have a photo and bio of themselves as well as some client testimonials. You don't want to be the guinea pig.  This is often the case when a programmer takes a one day SEO class at a community college then dons the title - SEO King.  Beware.


A trustworthy SEO provider will be open and straightforward about their experience and how long they have been studying the Google Algorithm and whether they were inhouse or worked with clients.  They should be able to provide multiple references. An experienced SEO provider doesn’t need to specialize in your industry, and some have used white labeled seo providers . It's often better to get a fresh perspective.  Make sure the SEO provider doesn’t say anything about having a relationship with Google. Nobody has a relationship with Google.  Also, make sure they are not in India, the work done in India is shoddy at best.  You get what you pay for.


Effective SEO providers should be able to talk about this with some level of certainty.  There is no right answer but it should foster a conversation about their thoughts on how SEO has changed.  For instance if they mention Keyword Meta Tags, then move on to the next provider because Keyword Tags were written out of the Google algorithm about a decade ago.  

There have been many big changes with SEO in the last several years and they should be able to discuss some of their challenges and strategies to adapt.


Inbound links are a ranking signal to the search engines. An inbound link is when another site has content with a link to your website. Inbound links are weighed heavily by Google when determining the order of search results.  While SEOs used to look for any link opportunity, today they should only build links on high quality sites that are related to the industry and top directory sites like CitySearch & The SEO provider should mention that the best types of links are those that occur organically in articles on trusted websites like Huffington Post.


The industry saying is 'Content Is King', and its true.  Without content there is nothing to optimize.  The goal is to get people to share your content on social media with the idea that it drives traffic back to your site.  SEO providers should have a content strategy or ideas about their approach to generating content for your site.  Ask to see some samples or check out their own social media pages to get an idea.  We personally think its best to work with an SEO agency with a good sense of written humor. 

These are some simple questions to ask an SEO agency or consultant before you work with them. Keeping up to date with the daily Google algorithm changes requires complete attention and tenacity.  It's not something you can read in a book because by the time you are done with the book, the game has changed.  

Feel free to give us a call if you have any additional questions or are looking for SEO Services - we know a good team :)   

Thank You For Reading! 

Questions to Ask Before You Start Your First Paid Advertising Campaign


You have decided it's time to start advertising on the internet for your services or products, but where do you begin?  Here are some of the most important questions you need to answer:

  • Where Should I Advertise?
  • What Will Be My Monthly Budget?
  • Is My Website Ready?

1) Where Should I Advertise?

When it comes to Paid Advertising, there is no larger or more effective platform than Google. Google's advertising platform has evolved significantly over the last decade allowing you to advertise several different ways with robust reporting to optimize your results, but is it right for you?  Is your market highly competitive? Google your services and look at the other ads that come up in search results to get a feel for them.  
If you are a dentist, lawyer or boutique hotel you might choose to advertise on Facebook so that you can stretch your budget and target a more niche audience. Facebook allows you to target by location, sex, age & interest where Google really can not.  The flip side is that Facebook is not a great platform for conversions, that is completing a sale or generating a phone call. It is however a good way to increase your brand awareness and cheaper than Google. 
Bing is trying real hard to mirror the Google Adwords platform but still struggles. Their consumer reach is still a fraction of Google, so if you only want to advertise in a particular city for instance, you will be challenged to get clicks or even eyes on your ads.   

Advertising on Twitter is like fishing for a certain type of fish by casting a large net into the ocean.  This is not recommended for local service providers, like plumbers, doctors, lawyers, etc., it's more for national brands.  LinkedIn would be used more for B2B advertising, like software companies, conferences, consulting & universities.

2. What Will Be My Monthly Budget?

Once you determine where you want to advertise, now you need to determine how much you are willing to spend.  We always recommend to our clients to come up with a budget for three months.  Any new paid advertising campaign will take three months to become fully optimized to where you can determine whether to continue or try other options.  There are some factors to help you determine your budget:

  • Expensive Keywords:  Will you be bidding on expensive keywords like "Law Firm New York City" or "Plastic Surgeon Los Angeles" or "Best BBQ in Austin".
  • Saturated Market: Are there many providers or products similar to you?  Your competition may be dominating the top four ad positions in Google and you may have to raise your bid to get your ad in there during business hours.
  • Location: Some areas are more expensive than others. An A/C Repair company in San Diego will need to spend more than the same company located in San Francisco.

3) Is My Website Ready?

Perhaps the most overlooked and important aspect of digital advertising is your website.  People forget that they are "paying for traffic" to come to their site.  Your website is where it all happens.  It's where you convert the visitor into a purchase, a phone call or an email, which is called a conversion.  You must get your website in tip top shape to convert lookers into bookers on both mobile and desktop platforms.

Final Thoughts

Getting started in Paid Advertising doesn’t have to be an expensive learning lesson, but will take at least 8-10 weeks to find your sweet spot and determine a proper ROI.  It is important to do your research and work with a experienced digital marketing agency that understands your business and goals and can devise and execute an effective strategy. Your digital advertising strategy should be unique to your business.  Oh, and we "know a guy" if you need assistance :)

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Digital Marketing For Medical, Dental or Cosmetic Practices

If you are a doctor, dentist, chiropractor or any other medical or cosmetic provider then you understand the impact digital marketing can have on your practice.  It's critical to your success.  Digital Marketing for medical practices can also be confusing.  Medical providers and practice managers are extremely busy running their practice and struggle to manage their website, social media, email marketing and monthly specials.  

As always, eMaximize gives you the straight dope on digital marketing so you don't wast your time with ineffective strategies.  We will outline the critical aspects of digital marketing for medical practices that will gain you the most return on your time and money.

Digital Marketing - Medical, Dental, Cosmetic

  • Quality Website - By quality we mean it is mobile compatible with a content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily add pages, specials, procedures and images, like WordPress.  You also need a blog so you can create your own content.  Your website is going to change more frequently than other businesses and it needs to be built with industry standard programming tools. WIX and Squarespace are not going cut it.  Even industry platform sites offered by DentalCMO, ChiroMatrix and others will have limitations. 
  • Search Engine Optimization - You are a local service provider with a lot of competition, therefore it's critical that your website is found on Google when people search for doctor, dentist, botox, chiropractor, etc. Now that you have a sturdy & flexible website, make sure you get quality SEO completed on your home page and most important service pages, at a minimum.  You also need to have your Google Plus account setup properly because it drives your Google Maps listing which has a significant impact on Google's search results.
  • Doctor & Staff Photos - New patients want to meet the doctor, it's exciting to them.  They don't want to see stock photos of people with perfect teeth and skin.  It's the same reason people need to see photos on, except this is more personal.  You must include photos of the doctor(s), staff, waiting and treatment rooms. This gives potential patients an idea of what their experience will be like. 
  • Patient Reviews - This must be assigned to your operations team and be part of their followup procedures.  Reviews are most important for medical providers, even more so than restaurants, and with good reason. Your team needs to be informed immediately when there is a bad review posted and respond appropriately.  There are so many review sites now, choose the boards that are most important to your practice and ask your team to generate positive reviews each month. There are a number of ways to do this without looking like a solicitor. It's just part of the deal, there is no getting around it.
  • Digital Advertising - If you are looking to attract new patients via the internet and social media, then you must advertise.  Unless your practice sits in the middle of a college campus, or your chiropractic office is in a big box gym, you need to attract new patients each month. The best way to attract new patients is via Google and Social Media advertising.  People forget that most online advertising is pay-per-click. It's not like a billboard on the freeway, it's much better. Your ad is shown to thousands of people searching for your specialty, in your location and you ONLY pay if they click on your ad. Your ads will be seen by an enormous amount of people for free.  Implementing a good PPC campaign is the best way to attract new patients.
  • Responsive Digital Partner - You were waiting for this right?  Lastly you need a quality digital marketing partner, a consultant or an agency that can respond quickly to your digital needs.  A digital partner will help you:
    • Change information on your website
    • Create graphics for monthly specials
    • Create new service pages or posts
    • Analyze why you dropped in Google Search Results
    • Inform you of bad reviews and respond.  
    • Assist your team with posting to Social Media
    • Run Advertising campaigns on Google & Facebook.

As a medical provider you are in tough competition for shrinking real estate on the first page of Google.  You are constantly playing defense against social media comments and reviews which can impact your practice quickly. Waiting weeks for SEO or content changes is not acceptable.  Potential patients are looking at your many online profiles every day. You need someone on your team doing the same.  

We would love to be that person, your medical digital marketing partner!  

Lets Get Started !

Digital marketing Consultant vs. Agency

Often times our new clients just left a national or regional digital marketing agency. The reasons for change are often the same - lack of performance, cost, local focus & personalized services.  

There are certainly many very good agencies and there are definitely many bad digital marketing consultants. Unfortunately it's like that show "Catch A Contractor" with many scheisters in this industry looking to take advantage of good businesses that simply want to trust their online marketing to someone who is qualified.  It seems every kid that took a graphic design or HTML class at the local community college has crowned himself SEO King and this is dangerous for many local businesses.

Since we already explained How To Hire A Digital Marketing Partner in a previous post, this time we will explain the difference between hiring a (qualified) agency vs. digital marketing consultant. 

  • What Is The Difference Between Digital Marketing Agency and a Digital Marketing Consultant?  If you are working with an agency then you are assigned an account manager for all your needs. That is the major difference.  You will never speak to a programmer, Adwords, SEO or Social Media specialist.  Many agencies automate these tasks so the specialist often doesn't even exist.  When working with a consultant you speak directly with the person making changes to all facets of your digital marketing footprint.  This person typically has 10+ years experience as a senior digital marketer, very different from an account manager.
  • Consultants Customize Services to Meet Client's Needs.  A good consultant always has the customer's best interest and profitability in mind.  Consultants are not trying to grow the account, take over services or replace team members.  We are not going to force you into using our proprietary software so that you MUST rely on us because changing would be a major project.  A consultant keeps their eyes on the horizon and the engagement flexible so they can adapt to your needs, industry changes and emerging trends.  At eMaximize we never leverage our technology experience to trap our clients into long term engagements. Clients own their websites, campaigns, analytics and have keys to their domain.
  •  Consultants Work Well With Client Teams & Partners.  Because eMaximize operates in complete transparency with the single focus of making your business more profitable we become a valuable extension of your team.  Our success will always be based on our ability to work with client teams and their partners to increase revenue & profitability.  We are not trying to worm our way into other areas of your business, we stay in our lane and work diligently and efficiently so your team can focus on operations.

  • Consultants Are Extremely Loyal.  Consultants know how hard it is to find good clients and fight to keep them. At eMaximize, our entire business model is based on client relationships because we do not have a sales effort. This is why we place much more value on our clients than any account manager could. We would never work with any of your competitors.  If we already represent a plastic surgeon in Santa Monica (for instance) how could we effectively market another in the same location?  Do you think an agency would maintain this level of business etiquette & conflict of interest?

  • Consultants Bring A Local Focus Agencies Often Miss.  Working with a digital marketing agency often means your account manager is in another time zone.  This has some obvious drawbacks, one of which is not understanding your local community. Knowing the geographical area, local events & community is extremely critical when planning and executing SEO, PPC and Social Media strategies. Here at eMaximize Digital Marketing we meet all our clients in person.  We understand their local market and competitive landscape because we typically live close by.  We are always available for meetings to discuss new procedures, products or strategies or to have lunch and review quarterly results.  It makes sense to use a local expert if you are trying to drive local traffic to your business.
  • Digital Marketing Consultants Are Cost Effective.  Contracting with an agency means you will pay a premium for services and typically cannot deviate from "their plan".  You will be charged a fee for SEO , another fee to manage your Adwords and another for Facebook & Twitter updates.  Don't even think about asking them to make a change to your website, that's $100/hour with a one hour minimum. They have their plans which have hard costs and distinct boundaries. Working with eMaximize you will enjoy an all inclusive buffet with beverages.  All of our services are covered in one fee and we even throw in some programming and graphic design if needed.  We customize all services and fees to meet every client, because all clients have different challenges, goals and timelines.

These distinctions encapsulate what makes eMaximize the best digital marketing consultancy in Los Angeles.  They also explain why eMaximize has never needed to hire a business development or sales person.  All our business comes from referrals or repeat business from our happy clients.  We are effective, collaborative, and efficient.  We work well with clients and their business partners.  We focus on our area of expertise and recognize the expertise of your team.  These are the traits we deem essential for success and define eMaximize as digital marketing consultants!

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One of the Biggest Myths of Local Marketing

If you are a local service provider such as a doctor, dentist, lawyer or plumber then your ability to reach customers within a 15 mile radius is critical to your success. It's estimated that 1/3 of all Google searches have local intent (Q1 2015).  So when marketing your medical group or law practice, being Google search friendly is very important.

One of the biggest myths business owners think is necessary is having your primary keyword(s) in your domain name, e.g.,, or

For those businesses just starting out with a vague understanding of SEO, it may seem like this is necessary, but its not. For local search even more than regular keyword search, having the keyword embedded in your domain name likely isn’t going to lend advantage all that much above all the other SEO activities you really need to be doing in order to achieve rankings.

Additionally, it should be pointed out that for established businesses, somewhere around half of your organic search traffic is likely from your business name; so over time, the best approach is to focus your domain on your company name.

I've often said the early adopters of SEO were the hotel industry.  They started in the early 2000's because it was extremely beneficial to their bottom line, but how many times have you spent the night at Hoteliers don't worry about keywords in their domain name and neither should you.

Focus your efforts on the basics of SEO for local businesses and don't worry about the domain name.

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Tweets Now Appearing In Google Results

Google has always claimed how hard it is to clean up the web, with all the outdated websites and spam news sources.  Now they plan to give away valuable real estate on page one to Twitter.  It was announced back in February that a new deal was struck between Twitter and Google which would see the indexing of tweets in Google’s search results.

Now, six months later, Google has implemented this feature.  Tweets are now included in all English desktop searches. Soon we will hear about tweets being included in mobile desktop searches.  

When you search for well known people or brands you get a stream of their latest tweets embedded in the search results pages.  See here.

Instead of getting some news about Richard Branson's latest projects, we are going to see what he had for breakfast.  This news is somewhat strange as Google has always wanted to keep their search results relevant, like an encyclopedia and/or newspaper.  Bringing social media into the SERPS puts them on a slippery slope.  

Only time will tell, and somewhere Mark Zuckerberg is stewing.


SEO For Local Service Providers

If you are a local service provider - Hotel, Doctor, Lawyer, Dentist, Plumber or (whatever), then appearing on page one of Google for Local search results is critical to your business or practice.  Local Search Marketing is constantly changing with each Google algorithm update, to which there are over 200 per year.  Here is a short appetizer to get you current on important SEO For Local Service Providers.

Google of Yesteryear

Like the early days of Google's organic search, the introduction of local results & Google Maps  was a simple system with little qualifications for placement. It was easy to game the system with keyword-stuffing, fake addresses and storefronts, Before Google had the mechanisms in place to filter the good from the bad, it was the Wild West for placement in local results.

Several iterations later, the local results are much more screened and harder to obtain a spot for your business. There are many factors now determining rank in Local Results.

Some of Those Include:

  1. Proximity. Is the physical business location close to the location defined?
  2. Relevancy. Is the business relevant to the search query or what it is asking?
  3. Prominence. Does this business stand out above other relevant businesses?
  4. Device.  What device is delivering the query?  Mobile or Desktop?

Historically, the location was defined by the query, (e.g., Pizza in Santa Monica), but since the Pigeon update, the searchers themselves became the location point. This is a major difference, and something we need to think deeply about in our targeting both organically and on PPC.

Not only do you have to consider your location in your SEO and PPC efforts but you also have to consider generic phrases with the location implied, like "Order Pizza".  These are different things from an SEO standpoint but either way, you need to take it into account, as well as what device a person will likely use to perform the query.

Google is also making assumptions about mobile queries and changing the search results accordingly.  It's critical in local, or any other online marketing, to consider the device: what it can tell you about your visitor and what information or experience you should be presenting to them.

Because of all these factors, SEO Ranking Reports have become almost impossible to create and local businesses should not stress day to day over rankings.  The results are going to change depending on location, device, time of day, etc., BUT someone should clearly be monitoring your position on a monthly basis.

Ranking High On Local Search

The first place to start is Google My Business. This is what controls how your business appears on Google Maps and often mobile devices.  Claiming your business location is critical.  It's a little confusing as they force you to open a Google Plus User Account, to manage your business listing.  They will most likely send a good ole fashioned postcard via snail mail to make sure your business address is legit.   Once you get in, its like a Facebook business page where you enter business information and upload a cover image.

What About Reviews

Reviews for your business are great.  Obtaining them is a constant battle and something all businesses must do. Even one review every other month is a good start.  Get them wherever you can - Google Plus, Yelp, Facebook, HealthGrades, etc.  HOWEVER, Google Plus reviews don't have as large an impact on local search as many people think.  They're crucial for brand and reputation management, and play an SEO role - but they aren't the catalyst to top rankings that they used to be. It's definitely in the algorithm, but not weighted as high as some might like.  You can see this easily with many sites with low reviews outranking sites with dozen of good ones.

We expect this to change as Google gets better at filtering out spam sites, fake addresses & false reviews.

Stick To The Basics

Google's core SEO principles have not changed so stick to the core SEO strategies of providing relevant and fresh content. Include your targeted keywords in all your copy and keep your Google Business (Maps) listing active and you will soon bubble to the top of Local Search Results, ahead of your competitors.  It takes a little know-how, some time and effort.  

It is critical for local service providers to invest in some sort of digital marketing each month.  Someone needs to be keeping an eye on your online reputation, footprint and ever changing Google algorithm because your competitors certainly are.  You're in luck ... It just so happens we know a guy!

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Digital Media Trends For Hoteliers

Digital Trends Hotels - Los Angeles

The Social Media landscape is changing for hotels.  Gone are the days where you paid an intern to post a couple photos per week on your Facebook page to keep it "relevant".  Also gone are the days where Facebook shared your posts to all your followers.  They now want you to pay a "boost" fee to reach some of your followers and guests.  This latest Facebook blunder has contributed to the rise of other social media platforms and digital marketing strategies.  Hoteliers better understand these new trends because their competitors most likely do.   

Here are some recent digital media trends in the hospitality and how hoteliers can take advantage of them.

1. Understand Mobile - This does not just pertain to your website any more. It pertains to the whole booking process. People are researching and booking hotels, often at the last minute while in a cab leaving the airport.  Test your booking process on multiple devices. Make sure room photos, specials and upgrades are quickly displayed and the booking process is slick.

2. Get Down With Apps - The average smartphone user has over 20 apps installed and chances are that your hotel app is not one of them.  Partnering with popular booking apps like Hotel Tonight which only sells rooms for the current day is a great way to sell your unused rooms and increase revenue.

3.  Instagram Moments - It used to be a Kodak moment, now its Instagram.  Smart hoteliers are allowing their guests to do marketing for them by arranging cool visuals on their property so guests can create their own Instagram moment and share with their friends.  Be aware of this and use it to your advantage.

4.  Transparency Reigns Supreme - Today's Millennials are most likely more tech savvy than your revenue manager so don't try to fool them or be misleading, they will catch you and it will hurt.  Smart hoteliers are looking to see how their property looks on all travel sites - Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Maps.  Make sure the information is accurate especially the photos.  Upload photos that accurately portrays your hotel's rooms, lobby, restaurant & location.  Misleading Millennials with anything less than complete transparency is not a winning strategy.

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The Hackers Are Coming. Are you Prepared?

Hacking is not just for big retailers and the U.S. government anymore.  Cybercrime and malicious digital attacks are ever increasing and can happen to your business, regardless of how small you may be. In fact, it’s cost the global economy more than $400 billion, and it’s increasingly hurting smaller operations.

The problem goes far beyond the leaking of sensitive emails and sexy selfies. Targeted attacks against small businesses nearly doubled in 2014. One in five small businesses will experience a cyber attack each year and of those attacked, 60% will close their doors within six months as a result.

The grim truth is there is no way to completely protect yourself against hackers and security threats towards your website or blog. A determined hacker will find his or her way into your system whether you like it or not. It is up to you to make their job as difficult as possible so hopefully they move on. Unless there is a large financial payoff, there is a good chance the hacker will give up and try an easier website. 

Once they get in, they typically change your home page to something like this. 

 A Top Hacking Organization

Some Things You Can Do To Prevent:

1. Be password-savvy. If your password is still “Password123” or "Admin", it’s time to wake up. Create unique usernames and passwords for each of your accounts, and make sure they’re at least 8 characters long with special characters.

2. Delete Unused Plugins.  If you have a WordPress site that uses plugins you may have some security holes. A plugin after all is a way to bypass "proper" coding, and they were created by regular people.  Unused plugins are a threat to your WordPress security and should be removed. A hacker often targets plugins that people purchased in mass because they were popular. If he can breach a certain plugin, then he has access to all sites that use it.

3. Keep Things Up To Date. This goes for all your technology, software, and accounts. Keep up to date with WordPress updates, and if your security plugins come with free updates you should update as soon as they are released. Do not stick with old versions of WordPress because the longer a WordPress version exists, then the higher the chances are that hackers have found a way to break into it. 

3. Back Up Your Website. Your best defense is to backup your website, then if you are hacked you can wipe the slate clean, restart your security, change all your access passwords, improve your passwords, and re-upload your website within an hour. Most hosting companies offer these services and you can roll back to yesterday's status with the click of a mouse.  

The Bare Minimum SEO All Local Businesses Must Do

SEO For Local Business Manhattan Beach

Running your own local business is rewarding, exciting & motivating.  It can also be a huge time sucker in the sense that you often engage in too much DIY activity. One of those activities is marketing.  It either falls to the way side or like many local businesses, you delegate to your web programmer who is not interested or lacks the skills to be effective.

Whether you are managing a restaurant, medical practice, automotive shop or law firm, digital marketing for a local business is critical to its branding, revenue and ultimately success.  Well you are in luck because we are going to provide you with three digital marketing activities that every small business should do in 2016.

Go big, Go mobile or go bankrupt

Many local businesses websites were built 3-5 years ago.  They may have had a mobile "retrofit" recently but that may not be enough to be mobile device compatible.  In the last few years a technology called “responsive design" has emerged.  This is a programming technique that builds your website so that it checks the size of the device before it loads images and content.  This way you only build one website and its works for desktop, tablet & mobile. The antiquated strategy was to build two separate sites, one for desktop ( and one for mobile (  This is no longer necessary or effective. 

In 2015 Google announced they altered their search ranking algorithm to give preference to all sites that were built with responsive design.   Go mobile or your site will slip in the rankings, it’s that simple.  In addition 30% of all Google searches come from mobile devices.

Claim your real estate

All local business owners should be checking to see how their business looks on the in search results, this includes Google (& Bing) map results.  If you have a brick and mortar business with a physical location then Google has already created a map listing.  The problem is that this map listing looks like this.

You need to create a login for Google My Business and claim and verify your listing.  Google will send a postcard with a PIN to verify that you have a physical address. Once verified you must update your listing with the correct contact information, location, description and photos.  This is no different than your Facebook business page in fact its Google's competitor to Facebook except this is what shows on Google Maps and mobile devices when people are searching for your services. If you take away nothing else, understand that if you want to rank higher in Google, then it makes sense to use their products.

Hit Me One Time SEO Master

The third SEO digital marketing task you should perform for your business is On-Page SEO.  Do this at least one time.  Contact a reputable digital marketing agency and have them modify your website to make it search engine friendly.  This should cost you about $800-1000 and will pay dividends in terms of organic visibility.  They will talk with you about your core services and make sure you can be found online when people search on Google.  SEO is a tireless beast and if you want to stay at the forefront of search results it should be done monthly. However, if you are not willing to pay for monthly services then at very least get some on-page SEO done once.

Thank You For Reading! 

3 Design Issues That May Be Killing Your Website

A common theme in website development is that too many designers and developers do not keep up with the latest changes with the Google Algorithm, which changes daily.  They implement design strategies that look cool but paralyze their website from search traffic.  What good is your website if people cannot find your products and services through Search?

We present three of the most misunderstood website design and layout techniques that could be killing your website, or at least your business in terms of traffic.

Infinite (Endless Scroll)

While no technique is inherently bad, this design method is one of the most overused and misunderstood design techniques on the Web today. Many sites use it with the idea it helps site engagement because visitors don’t have to click, they just keep paging down to see your content. Infinite scroll fetches content from a database and inserts onto the page as the user scrolls. This results in a seemingly endless page.

Major SEO Issues: Google is leery of fully crawling infinite scroll and it will trigger some type of limitation on the data that you are feeding it to index your site. How can you expect Google to index several pages on your site, say for products or services if its all on one page?

Memory Issues: If you put too much scroll into the page, you are consuming browser memory with each flick of a finger and you can cause browser performance issues. This can be a big deal for the fast growing mobile user population.

You're Not Mobile-Friendly

If your site is NOT mobile-friendly, you should stop what you are doing right now and make a plan to get it there.  Do you think smartphones are going away?  If you rely at all on organic search traffic (or Social Media) your site must be mobile friendly or you will lose traffic. Loss of traffic means lost revenue, clients, patients, customers and most importantly - vacations!

Over the past two years, Google has been very explicit that sites need to start taking mobile into account. On January 24, they even released a mobile algorithm that started penalizing sites from mobile search for not being mobile-friendly and started moving them down in search results. 

So what is responsive design?

Responsive design uses one code set and techniques to make the site render properly in all types of devices by pre-determining how it will appear on that screen size.  If you have a WordPress site developed recently its probably responsive.  If  yours is not, find a theme that is and switch to that. This can be a lot easier than trying to convert a non-responsive WP site to be mobile friendly. If you have a site that is built outside Wordpress, find someone who is an expert in coding responsive sites and get it going. There is no workaround for this.

Hamburger Menus

It has become common practice in mobile web design to remove all menus and load in a "hamburger menu".  While mobile users have become more familiar with this menu type on desktops you are hiding what the user can find on your site and adding a click. Neither of these is necessary and in the end can cause user confusion.

Hamburger Menus

Usability studies  show us that if you want to get maximum clarity for those using your mobile site, add the word MENU to your hamburger icon. It helps users find and understand it much easier.

Don’t use the hamburger icon on your desktop site (except maybe a tools menu), make it clear that it is a menu by adding the word "menu" to your icon in mobile and make sure it is large enough to be easily clicked by tablet and smartphone users.

Often designers and developers get bored with their work and want to do something new and fun (don’t we all) or CMOs look at a new cool thing on another site and want to add it to their own. While these can sometimes work well for users, they are often hinder the intended purpose of the site and especially organic search traffic.   When in doubt always err on the side of functionality, not fun.

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* portions of this article taken from Kristine Schachinger


The Best Digital Marketing Advice For Local Businesses in 2015

As a digital marketing agency, we talk to many small and medium sized businesses looking to increase their revenue.  Many of these local businesses have the same problems when the approach us.  We thought we would share some of the low hanging fruit so that you can at least have a shot a competing in your local market. Then when you approach us to blow by your competitors we can move that much faster.

Secure All Your Passwords

This is perhaps the biggest digital marketing aspect that no smarty-pants SEO consultant talks about.  It's so simple, but yet very few clients we engage with have all their passwords.  We then embark on a mission to chase them down, typically wrestling them from a scorned programmer who doesn't want to admit that WIX and Squarespace just decided his fate to that of Blockbuster and Tower Records, (may they rest in peace).  Here are the most important passwords all local businesses must secure.

  • Your Registrar - This is the company where you bought and you pay $20-30 annually to keep ownership of that domain. This needs to be registered in your name, with your email address and not your programmers name or email address. You must keep this password safe.
  • Your Host - This is where your website is located.  This is not a WordPress or Joomla password, those are for backend access to your site to make edits. All websites live on a server somewhere, that is your host.  Many times your host and your registrar are the same, like GoDaddy.  That keeps things simple and we recommend that.  We also recommend Go Daddy, while pricey, its worth it, as they have the best support, which is helpful if you don't understand The Internet.
  • Your Google Maps Listing - About two years ago Google started forcing everyone to use Google Plus in order to manage their business listing on Google Maps. It sucks, they should just admit they missed the boat on social media and stop trying to catch Facebook.  Nobody understands Google Plus or cares about it. The executives at Google don't even have accounts.  None the less, in order to keep your Google Maps listing accurate you must create a Google Plus account and then go through a verification process to let Google know you have a real brick-and-mortar business.  They try to make sure all businesses on their map have a real physical address, which makes sense.  Typically they send a postcard via U.S. Mail with a PIN to verify this.

Many businesses went through this PIN verification but do not know who did it for them.  It could have been a departed employee, a web programmer, an old email address no longer in use. You cannot change anything on your Google Maps Listing without gaining access to the Google Plus account that verified it.  In addition, trying to get Google to delete your listing or give you access is a painful process which can take several weeks and months. 

  • Google Analytics - This is another password that is typically set up by your programmer. Often what happens is that your programmer creates it under their own email address so that all YOUR website visitor data is under THEIR account.  They do this so they can sign into one account and see all their clients. It's bad technique. Problems happen when websites are neglected for years and nobody remembers who set up the account.  Then often you have to create a new Google Analytics account, thus wiping out the last 2 years of historical data of who visited your site, where your traffic came from, what pages were most popular, etc.  This is valuable data and like your registrar, it should be set up in your name with your email address.

That should give you a good start. If you are thinking about enlisting the help of a (good) digital marketing agency or consultant it would behoove you to get your passwords in order, otherwise you are paying your agency to find them, instead of driving traffic. 

In a nutshell you cant do anything without your passwords.  You wouldn't treat your banking passwords this carelessly so why would you do it to your business?

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