Search Engine Optimization or optimizing for Google, Bing and Yahoo is the best way to increase organic traffic and your website’s position in SERPs. If you are looking for tips and advice, check out our blog!

If you have a website, you’ve probably heard of SSL certificates, but are you actually aware of what they are and why they are important?

If not, keep reading…

SSL is an acronym for secure sockets layer. SSL certificates are the backbone of website security, and are vital for any business with an online presence, especially in 2018. SSL certificates allow someone’s browser to bridge a secure connection to your server, ensuring that the information is securely transferred.

You can tell if a website is SSL secure by looking at the URL structure. If a website’s URL starts out with “http,” it is not SSL secure. If it starts with “https,” then it is secure. Some browsers will also display a small lock icon to indicate you are browsing a secure website.

Here are a few reasons why all of this is important.

1. Stops Information Theft

When information is submitted on a website, it usually goes through a channel of computers before it reaches the intended party. So the chances of that information being stolen along the way are higher if SSL is not applied. SSL encrypts the information so that it’s readable only to the party it is intended for. It does this by adding random characters to the submitted information, which can only be accessed with an encryption key. The information is useless to anyone who doesn’t have that key.

With identity theft on the rise, information security is more important than ever. SSL ensures you keep everyone’s information safe, which builds confidence in people who are visiting your site.

2. Provides a Sense of Security to People Visiting Your Website

With identity theft on the rise, information security is more important than ever. SSL ensures you keep everyone’s information safe, which builds confidence in people who are visiting your site.

3. A Necessity for Online Payments

An SSL certificate is a requirement for any website that accepts payments with an encryption of at least 128-bit. So, if you have an ecommerce site, you have to have an SSL certificate installed if you plan on taking credit card payments.

4. It’s Mandatory in 2018

To ensure safer browsing in 2018, Google flagged any website that doesn’t have SSL certification by the end of 2017. It’s important to note that this change will affect all websites and not just ecommerce sites. So, if you’re a restaurant owner, lawyer, dentist, realtor or consultant, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this change doesn’t apply to you. It does.

Now that January 1st has passed, when people try to access a website without a SSL certification, a ‘Not Secure’ message will appear, which will more often times than not prompt them to leave.

Maintaining an online presence can be tough, so don’t make it any harder for yourself than it already is. If you don’t already have an SSL certificate on your website, NOW is the time to do so. If you would like to speak with a Cloud9 hosting specialist about making your website secure, contact us today.

Google recently announced that at some point in 2018 they will be switching to mobile-first indexing. This huge change means that Google will now determine SEO rankings based on the quality of businesses mobile sites, rather than the desktop version. If you want your business to rank effectively for local searches, it’s important you start focusing your efforts on the mobile-friendliness of your site. We’ve outlined for you the difference between desktop and phone searches, and how you can adjust your mobile site to improve your local SEO ranking.

What’s the different between desktop and mobile?

Most laptop and computer searches have delayed search intent. This means that users may be searching for your business from home or work to see if you have what they need, but don’t plan to visit you straightaway.

This can also be true for mobile searches, as people usually grab the nearest device to them to look something up. However, most mobile searches come with immediate search intent, as people are already out and looking for places to visit in the area. Focusing on this immediacy, and having simple, readily available answers for mobile users, is crucial to optimizing your local SEO.

How do I optimize my local business for mobile?

 

  • Focus on Voice Searching

Phone users tend to avoid lengthy searches, as typing on a small device can be frustrating. Using audio is becoming the easiest and most popular way to search online, thanks to the rise of mobile chat bots and devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple Homepod. This means searches have become much more conversational, as customers actually say what they are looking for. By optimizing your site for shorter keywords, and common spoken phrases like ‘near me’ or ‘where can I find’, you can tailor your site to provide an optimal mobile experience.

  • Increase your Speed

Rather surprisingly, people are typically more patient on mobile than on desktop. That being said, 19% of people will abandon a page if it takes longer than 5 seconds to load. To create a frictionless experience, you should really attempt to improve your site speed. This can be done by tweaking your site to reduce the amount of redirects you include, and by grouping assets like JavaScript and CSS, so the browser has fewer files to load. You can also optimize and scale your images, and use browser caching.

  • Create a Mobile-friendly Design

Ultimately, if you design a mobile site with the user in mind, the results will speak for themselves. There are some great websites that can test how phone-friendly your site is, but you can first try clearing all the clutter and pop-ups from your site. Adjust your typography for a small screen, and make sure you leave enough room between clickable elements for fingers and thumbs. You can also try having a responsive design that can adapt to all screens: this means your site is all on one URL and will be easier for Google to index.

With mobile traffic now eclipsing desktop traffic, it’s important to improve your mobile site to keep up with these changes. If you need some help optimizing your site for mobile, our team at Cloud9 Marketing would be more than happy to help.

Whistler offers an amazing array of top-quality services and companies. While this is what makes us such an incredible community, it also means that there is a lot of competition for local businesses. Your website allows you to speak to the entire online world, but if you’re offering local services you need to be predominantly targeting potential customers in Whistler. Optimizing your website for your geographical area is essential for boosting your SEO, and for showing customers exactly where they can find you. Here are our top tips on how you can improve your local SEO and generate better traffic through location-based searching.

#1 Get on Google My Business

Registering your business with Google My Business is the first step to optimizing your local SEO. It’s completely free to do, and allows you to manage your online presence across Google’s search pages, including Maps. It asks you to fill in a mini summary of your business that gets displayed at the top of Google’s results pages. This means it is essentially the first impression potential clients will get of your business, before even clicking on your website. It’s also important to update this on a regular basis with new photos, information, hours, etc. As well, encourage your customers and clients to review your business on Google – even a few reviews looks good.

Local SEO Map Pack

What people see when they Google Cloud9 Marketing

#2 Keep your contact information consistent

It’s crucial that all your information is the same across online platforms. Not only does this make it easy for customers to find you, but also it shows you uphold a reliable business. NAP (your company’s name, address and phone number) is your digital thumbprint, and if this information fails to align across the different online profiles of your business, Google will recognise these inconsistent listings. The more times Google ‘sees’ your thumbprint on reputable websites, the more confident it becomes that it is displaying a trustworthy business in its search results.

#3 Build your online credibility

Even though this one takes time, having a solid catalogue of good reviews on your page is going to elevate your local credibility and improve your SEO ranking. A recent survey found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Don’t be afraid to sincerely ask customers for reviews, and make it easy for them to do so by offering a multitude of potential review sites to use, such as Google+, Facebook and Yelp.

#4 Connect with other local Whistler businesses

If the Internet didn’t exist, you’d probably have to promote your business through regular networking, or by joining a Whistler business group, right? The truth is, you should still be doing the equivalent of this online. Start liaising with other local businesses and linking them on your site, and this will hopefully encourage them to return the favour. By engaging with respected companies you will show search engines that you are a trusted, reliable source.

#5 Write great content

If you keep producing quality, locally orientated content, then results will naturally follow. Keep your customers interested and engaged to increase their affinity with your brand. This can be via content promotions, polls, or just some interesting posts about what’s going on in Whistler next weekend. Maintaining steady blog posts and social media posts demonstrates your involvement in the local community, and can be a super effective way to increase your SEO.

Check out our tips on blogging to improve your SEO!

If you’re looking to get your Whistler business out there and feature on local search results, we can help. Cloud9 Marketing offers free SEO audits at no obligation.

search engine optimization SEO digital marketing

Marketing has come a long way in the last few years, if you ask people in the industry many would probably agree there have been more changes in marketing in the last 5 years, then there has been in the 50 years prior. With the explosion of the internet, uptake of mobile and ability to seamlessly track and monitor advertising spend and ROI online, it’s no surprise businesses around the world are diverting their budget to digital in 2016. Here are some key Marketing Stats that are so important to the way a business markets their products and services in both the B2B and B2C space, they simply cannot be ignored.

  1. In 2016 67% more leads will be generated by companies with an active blog

Content marketing is essential for optimal SEO performance and is the best way to drive traffic to your website. Blogging about useful, informative and engaging information that is relevant to your target market will drive traffic to your website, ultimately increasing conversions for your business.

  1. The average person now spends more time online then TV and all other media combined

This should come as no surprise. Smartphones, tablets and computers have become an extension of people’s bodies and people now turn to the internet instead of traditional media like TV, print and radio to get information.

  1. Total spending on Internet advertising is predicted to grow 12.9% next year. The Internet will become the largest medium for advertising in 2016 (ahead of TV)

Internet advertising is cost effective, highly targeted and traceable. These three features along with potential reach have seen the internet surpass TV for total ad spend.

  1. Social ad spending has doubled over the past two years.

Social media advertising is easy, cheap and effective. With platforms like Instagram now offering ad functionality, total social ad spend is expected to continue with double digit growth over the coming years.

  1. By 2019 mobile advertising will represent 72% of all US digital ad spending

As smartphones become more functional, and websites more mobile-friendly consumers will increasingly use their mobile to research and purchase products and services online.

  1. Digital marketing spend is forecasted to account for 35% of total budgets in 2016.

How much has your business allocated to digital marketing this year? Companies have noticed the value of online marketing and larger portions of budget are being spent on digital marketing.

  1. The top four channels for increases in digital marketing spend last year were email marketing (61% of marketers increasing spending on this channel), social media (49%), mobile marketing (40%), and SEO/PPC (38%)

Most businesses have a combination of email marketing, social media, mobile marketing and PPC as part of their digital marketing portfolio. It is getting rarer for companies not to leverage all four of these components to varying degrees.

  1. Mobile commerce is growing fast, 87% of internet users now have a smartphone – mobiles are revolutionizing business

Around the world smart phones and mobile uptake is becoming the norm presenting an enormous opportunity for mobile advertising.

  1. 93% of shoppers buying decisions are influenced by social media

Although social media is not known as the best conversion platform it is absolutely essential for brand awareness and influencing customers to choose your company over the competition. To increase conversions, social media advertising is very effective.

  1. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy a positive ROI

Content marketing is commonly agreed by marketing experts to be the most important SEO element and those who commit to prioritizing blogging are seeing results.

There is no longer a question of having an online presence or not, and a website that’s not producing fresh content, or a social media presence that’s sitting stagnant, can do more harm then good online. The question now is having the right mix of online marketing components for your business to ensure you are reaching clients with the right message at the right time.

At Cloud9 Marketing we specialize in creating customized digital marketing strategies for our clients in Whistler BC and around the world. Whether it’s social media, SEO, web design, graphic design, content marketing and blogging or branding, we deliver results-driven, customer-centric and highly engaging digital marketing services communicating unique brands to the right people at the right time.

google-search

Google has just made a big change to the way it displays search ads which could have significant impact on your business. The right hand side of search results will no longer display search ads and will only display Product Listings Ads (PLAs) on highly commercial searches. Find out what this could mean for your business, and how you can utilize these changes to your advantage.

In the past a search engine result page (SERP) would show three paid advertisements above the organic listings, a handful on the right hand side and some underneath the organic results. With the new changes, up to four advertisements will be displayed above the organic search results and there will be no ads shown to the right of the results, except for PLAs in highly competitive commercial searches (such as insurance or airfares). According to Google, the click-thru-rates (CTRs) of ads on the right hand side was poor and this new change is expected to benefit advertisers in the long run, while creating a more user friendly search experience for browsers.

The biggest change this will have for advertisers is unless you are in the top four positions- it is very likely your impressions and CTRs will diminish. Competition for the top four spots will increase resulting in higher bids needed to obtain these spots. Those businesses who do manage to snag a spot in the top four ad results will likely see an increase in impressions and CTRs. Businesses who don’t have a budget to position in the top four will need to be more selective with their keywords and compete on words with a lower CPC or will face being buried underneath organic search results.

These changes will also affect organic search results as an additional ad displayed above organic results will limit the space for organic results on each page. This and the increase of ad extensions will encroach on dwindling organic search result space. Some experts believe the new changes may actually increase the CTR of organic results on the first page as the portion of web traffic that click on right hand ads (5.61%), may now click on organic results instead. Either way vying for that sought-after first page of Google will be more difficult for organic and paid results alike.

The new changes will take on the same layout as mobile searches and will affect advertisers across all languages and around the world. The changes were rolled out on February 18th 2016, and were some of the biggest changes Google has made to the SERPS in years.

So how can you use these changes to your advantage? Paid advertisers need to be selective on their key words and bid competitively. Maintaining a high quality-score through relevant ads, keywords and landing pages, using ad extensions and maintaining strong click thru rates will help secure a top spot. Those selling products can take advantage of the product listing ads to the right and top of the browser. Businesses relying on organic search results need to ensure their SEO strategy is rock solid to compete for a first page rank. As users become more sophisticated and business categories become more competitive it will take expertise and strategy to be displayed on the coveted first page of Google.

Need help with your Adwords (PPC) or SEO? Cloud9 Marketing creates and implements results driven digital marketing strategies using the latest trends and innovations in online and search engine marketing. Contact us today and see how we can help you.

build-a-website

Previous So You Want To Build A Website? Part One.

If you’ve bought a domain and have registered for web hosting the next step is to decide how your site will be built. Do you want to build it yourself with a simple drag and drop site? Would you prefer great customization with a theme? Or would you rather have the entire site coded from scratch? Web design is the most costly part of creating a website so it’s important to understand your options and be realistic with your skill level and time constraints. Having a set of goals and a budget on hand can determine which direction to go. Below are the different methods of building a website, theirs costs, and their advantages and disadvantages.

Building a Website

DIY

You don’t need any technical aptitude or coding experience to build a website these days. Web design platforms like Wix and Squarespace make web design accessible to even the most computer illiterate souls. These websites are essentially free to build and have some customizability enabling you to realize your creative vision with little or no expenditure. They are considered closed source platforms so don’t allow a lot in the way of flexibility and customization. The ease of use and affordability make sites like Wix and Squarespace great for Blogs and basic websites, but poor for sites that require customization.

Use a Theme

This is a relatively affordable way to build a website and offers great customization and support. WordPress is an example of a platform which features thousands of pre-coded themes ranging from free to hundreds of dollars. WordPress is an open-sourced platform allowing customization and flexibility. This is where it’s handy to know some html and css, or have a web designer on board that does.

Relatively web savvy people can create a website with WordPress, however the learning curve is steep and you’ll need to weigh up the cost of your time building the site versus hiring someone to do it for you. Hiring a web designer to build a WordPress site or similar is common. This can cost you between $500- $10,000 depending on the complexity of your site (pages, functions, additional coding/CSS).

It is worth mentioning that many people struggle with the decision to find someone local our out-source overseas (this can cost only a few hundred dollars). While it’s true you can get a website made relatively cheaply in countries like India, I think most people would agree if something were to go wrong, a local face and name to support you is invaluable. I’ve heard numerous stories of people getting their websites designed off-shore who live to regret it!

Develop from Scratch

The third option is to hire a web developer to create you a website from scratch. Unless you are a Fortune 500 company or require complicated functionality not supported by pre-existing themes, this is probably not required. Web developers are professionals who build the bones of the website using coding and PHP to create a site from scratch. This can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 depending on the site.

Get Noticed

There is no point having a website sitting on a slice of cyber real estate unless people can find it. Many would agree, getting noticed is the most important part of being online (you’ve worked so hard to hang the streamers, blow up the balloons, and bake the cake- now you need people to actually come to the party!).

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the art of getting found online and Search Engine Optimization is the science behind it. The complexity of SEM and SEO is far beyond the scope of this article but essentially involves building links, creating and optimizing content and installing proper codes into the back end of the site. This is just the start of what it takes to have your website get noticed online.

Building a website may be one of the biggest decisions your business will make and is the most pivotal aspect of your online strategy. There are over 3 billion internet users around the world. If you want a share of the online market place, a well built and optimized site that is in alignment with your online goals should not be overlooked.

Need more information on building a website? Contact Cloud9 Marketing and let’s discuss your brand’s online strategy and web design goals.

build-a-website

Building a website can be an overwhelming task, especially if you don’t know the first thing about web design. Like many people, web design may be a mystery to you- you can appreciate the final product but how the heck did it get there? You aren’t alone in your perplexity. Although building a website is becoming easier today with pre-coded themes, templates and drag and drop sites; these conveniences in some instances actually make it harder to accomplish your online goals in the long run.

So where do you start? It is important to ask yourself the following questions which will help determine your goals and the best direction for your website project.

  • What will be the main purpose of my website? (Convert sales, make advertising revenue, brand awareness)
  • How will people/ customers find it? (Social media, Search Engines, Yellow Pages)
  • Do you have any online competition?

A business without a website is an anomaly these days. However a business with a well-built and properly optimized website is just as rare. That leaves a lot of middle of the road, poorly designed sites that are doing a heck of a lot of nothing out there in cyber space. A website is the first step to a presence on the internet, and an important anchor for the rest of your online efforts. For this reason, it is essential to build a website that will get you where you want to go- as quickly as possible.

Buy a Domain

This is the easiest step. You probably have some idea as to what you want your domain to be. It could be your business name www.mikesplumbing.com , a set of keywords describing your business, www.whistlermaintenanceplumbing.com or another combination of words that relate to your business, brand or product offering.

Once you have an idea of which domains you like, go ahead and register them on sites like www.godaddy.com or www.domain.com. You will need to select your extension (.ca, .com, etc.), and have a list of alternatives to avoid disappointed when your #1 choice is taken.

Domains are pretty cheap these days and you can expect to land one for $10 to $20 a year.

Host your Domain

Next you’ll need to arrange web hosting. This is essentially the server where you will park your domain. Besides providing a place for your website (and all of its contents) to reside, web hosts ensure the website is running smoothly, updated properly and that the bandwidth and data transfer are performing as they should. They will also provide customer support if you are experiencing technical difficulties. A poor web host will neglect your site which can result in it being offline or not operating effectively for periods of time, with no support when you need it.

You can expect to pay between $10 and $100 dollars a month for web-hosting depending on the nature of your site and the level of hosting you require.

The next step, Building Your Website, is the most costly and time consuming part of the process. With your website goals in mind, let’s move along.

Next: So You Want To Build A Website? Part Two.

pay per click advertising

If you’ve been looking into increasing your web presence as a company you’ve probably encountered the phrase “pay per click.” Well this very vague title is exactly what we are going to explore in this blog post. What exactly is this so-called “Pay Per Click Advertising” and how does it work? Lets find out.

 

What is it?

Pay per click advertising is a form of web based adverting that helps with search engine optimization. Search engines like Google and Bing have designated spots on their search result pages, usually along the side or in the first 1-3 search result lines. These prime locations are reserved for paying clients who have pay per click advertising with key words relative to the search. Every time someone uses the ad by clicking on it, the paying client is charged, because it has proven to be a successful advertisement placement and search result combination.

 

How does it work?  

First things first, you’ll have to choose a keyword or phrase that you’d like your page to be associated. The process of determining which keywords you should apply to your business page requires a thought out approach. You’ll need to consider how generic or specific you’d like your results to be. Keep in mind what phrases your competitors might be using and always remember your target audience. Lucky you for, Cloud9 has marketing gurus available that do exactly that. We can help you determine what keywords would benefit your business, reach your target audience and achieve web presence goals. Working with a budget in pay per click advertising can work multiple ways. Sometimes it is a bidding war on the price per a click for a desired spot and search combination. Whoever is willing to pay the most per a click gets the spot. You may want to top out at a certain budget each month or after achieving a certain result. Almost all web presence goals can easily be reached by utilizing per click advertising as it increases traffic to your page, or even a sub pages of your website. Each click will take the searcher exactly where you’d like to be on your website. It’s the most ideal way for getting a searcher to find your page rather than your competitors and increase over all SEO.

 

Is it right for me?  

Sounds pretty peachy so far doesn’t it? Well the truth is, pay per click advertising is phenomenal; it is an incredible tool for your webpage. There aren’t many drawbacks for pay per click advertising unless the keywords and target audience don’t match. As mentioned before, this is a crucial step and needs some serious brainstorming. It can also be expressive and competitive to land your page in the top results section. If you’re considering using pay per a click, give us a call at Cloud9 and we can weight out the pros and cons for your company specifically and decide on the right marketing combination for your business. Pay per click isn’t for everyone or every business, but when it is fully understood and used correctly it can take your SEO to a whole new level.

SEO website analytics on a tablet

“Here’s the mental model you need to understand why Google does what it does in the search results: we want to return really good search results to users so that they’re happy, so that they’ll keep coming back. That’s basically it: happy users are loyal users.”

These words of wisdom come from the mouth of Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team. They tell the ‘secret’ behind Google’s attitude towards search engine optimization, or SEO.

SEO: Dead or Alive?

SEO has been a hot topic over the past few years—and more recently, the conversation has turned towards the death of SEO. There are plenty of headlines predicting the death of SEO, but these posts don’t provide very convincing evidence that SEO is, in fact, on its way out.

Our opinion? SEO isn’t dead; it’s simply evolving.

Back to Basics

SEO is a multifaceted and often multi-channel support method intended to improve a website’s online presence. For example, SEO will help your website rank higher in Google searches that use keywords relevant to your website.

Coming back to our opening quote, Google wants to please its customers: when a customer types a few words into the search engine, Google wants to provide them with the best matches possible so that the customers find what they’re looking for.

SEO works with Google to make sure that it can deliver to its customers. SEO means building strong websites that offer a great user experience. So, if a customer Googles keywords that match up with your site’s content, they’ll be happy if Google coughs up your name first.

Google is our Friend

Note that we said working WITH Google. SEO isn’t about tricking Google—after all, if someone is searching a topic that has nothing to do with your website and you “trick” them into coming to your website, they’ll probably just leave. They’ll be annoyed at you, and they’ll be annoyed at Google for not giving them what they want.

SEO is about helping companies like Google do their job—while helping the website owners improve their web pages and the user experience. Happy users like to stick around.

The Evolution of SEO

Why do people think that SEO is a dying field? Probably because SEO algorithms and techniques are constantly changing. SEO strategies that worked a year ago might be stale now, meaning Google has changed the way it decides how a site will be ranked.

Since SEO involves lots of moving pieces — including traditional methods like improved meta data, keyword and key phrase research, and proper tag usage—there’s a lot going on at once. It might be accurate to say that some parts of SEO are dying, but in their place, newer, more effective SEO methods are popping up. SEO isn’t dying; it’s regenerating.

Smart SEO

There are thousands of factors that play into SEO, with dozens of changes happening every month. That’s a lot to keep up with, which is why it’s important to ensure that your SEO guru is up to snuff. SEO is serious business—ignoring it altogether can harm you. If your website unintentionally is poorly formatted for SEO, it can actually be penalized in search engine results. Yikes.

The key to good SEO is a good SEO person who adapts to changes as SEO evolves. Psst… we can help with that!

altitube whistler weekly show

Launching December 2, 2013

AltiTube is the answer to weekly video content on your Whistler business website. AltiTube dishes on local events, festivals, activities, weather, mountain conditions and anything else happening that week in Whistler. Each week we produce a 1-2 minute high definition video shot in Whistler. The videos can be embedded on any Whistler business website and are updated automatically each week – creating fresh, engaging content with no maintenance. Hosted by Liz Hammond and Adam Kaye.

Learn more about AltiTube and the subscription packages at www.altitube.ca or contact us directly for more information.

Watch our intro video below: