Reasons Why Localized SEO is Important for Your Business

localized SEO by Search Engine Marketing Chicago

As a business owner, localized SEO can be extremely important for your online presence and visibility.

First, localized SEO allows you to target customers in your specific geographic area. This means that when people search for businesses like yours in their local area, your business will be more likely to appear in search results. This can help you attract more customers who are actually in your area and looking for your products or services. One of the most common search phrases for people using Google or other search engines is “best <your product or service> near me.”

Additionally, optimizing your local listing can help improve your online visibility and credibility. When your business appears in local search results, it can establish your business as a reputable and trustworthy source in your local area. This can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.

Localized SEO also allows you to optimize your online listings and directories, such as Google My Business, which can help you show up in the Google Maps section of search results. This can make it easy for customers to find your business address, phone number, and hours of operation.

Furthermore, optimizing your local business listing organically is a cost-effective way to promote your business. It is often less expensive than traditional forms of advertising, especially pay-per-click, and can be more targeted to your specific audience’s location.

Overall, localized SEO can help increase your visibility and credibility in your local area, improve your online listings and directories, and target customers who are looking for businesses like yours in their local area. It can be a cost-effective way to promote your business, and will be beneficial to your bottom line.

Contact us to begin localizing your local business listings.

Why all business owners should be using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to promote their business

SEO for small business

If you’re a business owner, using SEO can greatly benefit your online presence.

Firstly, SEO can increase your website traffic by making it more visible on search engine results pages. This can lead to more customers finding your website and potentially making a purchase.

Additionally, SEO is a cost-effective way to drive qualified traffic to your website. Instead of paying for each user that clicks on your website (PPC), you only pay for the efforts to improve your website’s ranking in search results.

SEO also helps establish your business as a credible and trustworthy source. When your website appears high in search results, users will likely trust your business more and consider making a purchase.

SEO also provides long-term results, by improving the user experience and making your website more user-friendly, which can lead to higher search rankings and more organic traffic over time.

Lastly, if you are a local business, SEO can help promote your products and services to local customers at the exact time they are looking for them. This can be especially useful for small businesses that want to attract customers in their local area. By optimizing your website for local search, you can improve your chances of being found by customers who are searching for businesses like yours in their local area.

Overall, SEO can greatly benefit your business by increasing visibility, driving qualified traffic, establishing credibility, and providing long-term results.

sem[c] has extensively experience in optimization for B2C and B2B businesses. Contact us to find out how we can help your business.

What can you learn from a hellish SEO client?

SEO hell

We had a really bad client. They own a high end medispa in the North suburbs of Chicago. It is rare for a client to exhibit so many characteristics of being a bad client.

  • They failed to provide necessary information or resources in a timely manner
    • Despite the neglect and damage done to their website by their previous marketing firm they were unable to provide administrative credentials for the website. This means, most outrageously, that their website was displaying the incorrect telephone number for over a month when our engagement began.
    • They claimed that their CRM was unable to show them anything about their business’ performance. Nothing about which were their most profitable services. Nothing about where most of their customers lived.
    • Lesson learned: Be sure to make sure to be clear about how critical credentials are and make acquiring them top priority.
  • They were consistently difficult to communicate with and unresponsive to emails or calls
    • No excuse was given for the delay in giving us admin access to the website.
    • Near daily requests for admin access were not answered
    • Lesson learned: Clearly establish who the decision maker is and interact directly with that person. This gets difficult if this changes during the project which makes it even more important.
  • They made unrealistic demands or have unrealistic expectations about the scope of the project or timeline
    • They were unhappy that they weren’t receiving phone calls and blamed us although there was no way to change the incorrect phone number listed all over their website.
    • They required that we reduce the budget for Google Ads but expected the same response that the higher budget received.
    • They demanded that resources be spent on trying to promote one of their services that is very expensive, has a terrible online reputation and was rarely searched for.
    • They claimed that no SEO was performed on their behalf.
      • Their website performance was an “E” when we started which we improved to an “A.”
      • Their website had well over 300 completely unoptimized images that we corrected.
      • Their WordPress backend had many unused plugins and plugins that were missing activation.
    • Lesson learned: It is never more important to realize that educating the client is part of the engagement process and that it may not take as it did not in this case.
  • They were consistently indecisive and make frequent changes to the project scope or direction
    • They eventually, after many changes, made it apparent that they were only interested in sales despite our providing them with marketing.
    • Their indecisiveness resulted in over a thousand changes to Google Ads in less than two months.
    • Lesson learned: You can never spend too much time making the scope and direction abundantly clear. However, some people will insist on being unreasonable.
  • They blame others for problems instead of taking responsibility for their own actions
    • Their complaints about no phone calls were due to their not discovering that the phone number on their website was incorrect and we couldn’t even change it because they couldn’t provide the proper credentials.
    • Their complaints about no leads was due to their misconfiguration of their email client which had leads skipping the Inbox.
    • Their complaints about leads expiring in a short period of time was their attempt to cover their staff’s inability to respond to leads in a reasonable length of time. Leads that don’t immediately convert to sales can convert after following up. 
    • Lesson learned: Some leads are better than others but no lead is worthless. Your client needs to be very clear about this.
    • They were disrespectful or abusive towards our  team
      • This happened repeatedly to a female team member.
      • Lesson learned: This is intolerable and inexcusable. Time to show the client the door.

Content optimization for search engines

Content optimization for SEO
Content Optimization for SEO

Content optimization for search engines is the process of creating and organizing content in a way that makes it more visible and easier to find in search engine results pages (SERPs). By optimizing your content for search engines, you can improve the visibility and ranking of your website, attract more qualified traffic, and increase the chances of converting visitors into customers.

There are several ways to optimize your content for search engines. Here are some tips:

  1. Use relevant, targeted keywords: Choose keywords that are relevant to your business and the content of your website, and use them throughout your content in a natural and unobtrusive way.
  2. Write for humans, not just for search engines: While it’s important to include keywords in your content, it’s even more important to write for your audience. Make sure your content is informative, engaging, and easy to read.
  3. Use headings and subheadings: Headings and subheadings help to structure your content and make it easier to read. They also give you an opportunity to include keywords and help search engines understand the main topics and themes of your content.
  4. Use lists and bullet points: Lists and bullet points make your content more scannable and easier to read. They also give you an opportunity to include keywords and highlight important points.
  5. Use images and videos: Images and videos can help to break up long blocks of text and make your content more visually appealing. They also give you an opportunity to include keywords in the file names and alt text.
  6. Use internal and external links: Internal links, which link to other pages on your own website, can help to improve the navigation and structure of your site. External links, which link to other websites, can help to improve the credibility and authority of your content.

By following these tips and best practices, you can optimize your content for search engines and improve the visibility and ranking of your website. Even better, you can contact sem[c] and have it done right for you.

Social media marketing (SMM) can benefit a business in several ways:

Facebook Planner
  1. Increased brand awareness: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others can help increase brand awareness by making it easy for businesses to reach a large and targeted audience. By regularly posting content and interacting with followers, businesses can build their brand and establish themselves as industry leaders.
  2. Improved customer relationships: Social media platforms provide a way for businesses to interact directly with customers, which can help build strong and positive relationships. By responding to customer comments and reviews, businesses can show that they care about their customers and value their feedback.
  3. Increased website traffic: Social media can drive traffic to a business’s website by providing a platform for sharing links and promoting content. This can lead to increased sales and revenue for the business.
  4. Targeted advertising: Many social media platforms offer targeted advertising options that allow businesses to reach specific demographics and interests. This can help businesses reach the right audience and increase the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.
  5. Better customer insights: Social media platforms can provide valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, which can help businesses improve their products and services and make more informed marketing decisions.
  6. Increased brand loyalty: By regularly engaging with customers on social media, businesses can build brand loyalty and encourage repeat business.

SEO – Five benefits to the website’s owner

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility and ranking of a website or web page in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. SEO is important because it helps to improve the user experience by making it easier for people to find the information they are looking for on the internet.

Here are five benefits to any website offered by effective SEO:

  1. Increased traffic: By ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), you can increase the number of visitors to your website.
  2. Cost-effective: SEO is a cost-effective way to drive traffic to your website compared to other forms of online advertising. Comprehensive SEO as we deliver to all sem[c] clients also reduced the cost of PPC campaigns like those in Google Ads.
  3. Increased credibility: Ranking high in search results helps to build credibility and trust with your audience.
  4. Better user experience: SEO helps to improve the user experience by making it easier for users to find the information they are looking for on your website.
  5. Long-term results: The effects of SEO are long-lasting, as opposed to paid advertising, which stops as soon as you stop paying for it.

Overall, SEO is an important part of any online marketing strategy as it helps to improve the visibility and credibility of your website, which can lead to increased traffic and sales.

Ambient Advertising

Ambient Advertising

Paid social media advertising is significantly and fundamentally different from paid text search advertising. The difference stems from the intentions of the audience. In Search the audience is looking for something specific whereas in Social Media the audience really isn’t. This means that if you want to use Social Media to advertise your business, the strategies you’ve developed for Search won’t work—you need to target paid Social Media advertising in a completely different way.

Emily in Paris

A recent article cited the Netflix show “Emily in Paris” as an example of ambient TV.

“Emily in Paris” begins and ends in an avalanche of desiccated digital-marketing language that seems to have subsumed Emily’s soul. She cares about nothing more than “social,” impressions, R.O.I.

Isn’t part of the seductiveness of social media that advertising also becomes ambient? You see content in your social media feed. There is very little distinction between organic and paid content. Everything is part of the never-ending digital information stream on all of your screens from smartwatches to 100 inch 8K TV sets.

This is not the case with search results. Google labels ads in their search returns. People still say that they never click on ads but research has shown that even with the labels many don’t know what an ad looks like. The act of making a search implies a sort of consent to what you get in the result.  On the other hand, everyone using social media is within the reach of “influencers” without any kind of consent, implied or otherwise. Influencers have replaced the endorsers from an earlier age of marketing.

A fashion blogger tagging her “favorite” basicswear brand on Instagram or a popular gamer name-dropping his “go-to” headset model mid-stream doesn’t carry the same heavy-handed transactional connotation as, say, Steve Carrell hawking Pepsi. (Or at least it isn’t supposed to.) True influencerdom presupposes a particular type of relationship between content creator and viewer, at scale, one that hinges on the willingness of the viewer to be influenced. Users consider influencers more akin to a close friend than an advertiser or paid endorser, as the stream of content they produce—and the more casual way in which it is shared with the public—imbues influencers with an air of authenticity that is rarely seen in semicommercial spaces.

Authentic or not the power of influencers derives from the pervasiveness of social media. More traditional news media even report on what’s trending on Twitter. Repetition may not make something true but it can make that thing seem possible or even likely. That makes paid social media advertising an effective weapon in the marketing arsenal.

Most businesses can benefit from paid online advertising. To find the right mix for you visit

 ““Emily in Paris” and the Rise of Ambient TV | The New Yorker.” 16 Nov. 2020, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

 “What is an Influencer? – Social Media Influencers Defined ….” 15 Oct. 2020, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

Ads + AI

Google has always presented their search ad offerings with the underlying premise that more clicks are better for your business. But, of course, you buying more clicks is also better for their business. The caveat to this is that not every click does your business any good. If a click is off-target, it can be not only valueless, it can be expensive–for you. Google, of course, gets paid either way.

Google Ads is mixing in some artificial intelligence with your keywords. You’ll see this when you notice that a search term triggered a click, but it doesn’t match any of your keywords. Obviously, you should investigate this event. 

A Google search of that unrecognized search term will reveal one of a number of things: 

  • The search term may be the name of a company or person offering the same products or services that you do. 
  • It might be the name of a branded product that’s offered by other businesses like yours. 
  • It could be a more generic type of product or service which is offered by businesses similar to yours.

The art to crafting a cost-effective Ads campaign is to reduce the number of off-target clicks. With the introduction of their quite clever AI-keyword-adding, Google is definitely getting you more clicks. However, you need to determine if any of the above scenarios do your business any good. Is your Ad strategy to get clicks from someone searching by the competition’s name, and not yours? If so, your landing page needs to be written to that specification–a more general landing page will likely not suffice.

By using AI to introduce new keywords, Google may actually be reducing the relevance of your Ads, while increasing the number of clicks you pay for. In any event, the process of evaluating these AI-added keywords creates a larger dimension; in turn, your evaluation process provides free training to Google to improve their AI for them.

Does Google’s use of AI help you or hurt you? It could go either way. You should make an informed decision about the best use of your PPC dollars. Contact us at, and we’ll devise a strategy to put Google’s AI to work for your company’s benefit.

Great SEO vs. Really Bad Design

Bad design trumps everything, even great SEO

Great SEO by sem[c]

Huge problems arose the first day of sem[c]’s engagement. The previous SEO provider had also served as the web developer (Developer #1). He had been tasked to move the WordPress site into Visual Composer but instead used a little-known page builder from the UK without notifying the client. He also hadn’t mentioned that the page builder was reliant on the developer’s paid subscription. The result wasn’t pretty. The site instantly slowed to a crawl but sem[c] was able to replace most of the proprietary and paid plugins with free alternatives and restored performance by putting in many hours within one day of switchover.

There’s nothing that even great SEO (as done by sem[c]) can do to remedy a really bad design. Good business results depend on an effective team effort. Without that no amount of increased search traffic with get those results, as this tale of woe shows.

There remained problems in support and backup because there was no evidence available that a backup had ever been performed. Even if it had, the developer hadn’t been able to demonstrate a restore from backup. He only provided techno-babble excuses. He was unable to provide access to a development environment. The only thing he had delivered competently was the graphic design.

Working with a new developer (Developer #2), sem[c] recommended that a very inexpensive support subscription be purchased and that a working development environment be deployed retaining the graphic design. Before that could happen Developer #2 was fired. The next developer (Developer #3), had a condescending attitude that was worsened by his complete ignorance of SEO backed with very strong but wrong opinions. He was released within two days after his engagement for insulting the client. Not quite soon enough.

The next developer (Developer #4), was gung-ho for doing a complete (expensive) redesign and, consequently, was adamantly against spending $50 for the support option. The redesign was unnecessary and sem[c] continued to recommend retaining and improving the then-current design. This recommendation was ignored by the client. Nothing happened for the next four months except that sem[c] doubled search traffic to the old website. There was little evidence that any SEO had been done previously. There was no indication why the redesign was taking so long.

Without notification the new design launched badly. The front page took nearly 20 seconds to load. There were no calls to action. Functionality was spotty. Page URLs were changed without any need to do so. The new graphic design relied on the technique of cognitive dissonance. However, rather than using the technique correctly, Developer #4 never mentioned or illustrated what the client actually did. Nothing about the business’ expertise or benefits that a visitor might expect were mentioned. At all. On the technical side, there was still no relevant development environment. All in all it was awful.

This nonsense had a devastating effect on search performance. The site dropped from the first page for critical search terms to the third page. This forced sem[c] to completely redo everything that it had done over the previous five months.

After several more months of half-hearted attempts by this incompetent supplier to improve the horrible site performance a talented web developer (Developer #5) was brought in to assist sem[c] in correcting the mess made by Developer #4.

Unfortunately, the self-referential and client-adverse graphic design of the site itself remained. The Bounce Rate had skyrocketed due to the miserable site performance and, if that weren’t bad enough, the design had little to offer anyone to stay. They didn’t. Nearly 95% of visitors left after viewing just one page. It took months for all the corrections that were necessary to lower the Bounce Rate “down” to 80%.

SEO is not sales. There’s nothing that SEO, even when done by sem[c], can do to remedy really bad graphic and technical design. Good business results depend on an effective team effort. Without that unity of purpose no amount of increased search traffic with get the results that every business needs.

What do you know about the SEO of page builders for WordPress?

WordPress is an option when building a new website


Recently, the ‘next big thing’ in web development has been a graphic design layer that enables drag’n’drop editing to your new WordPress site. These software layers or ‘page builders’ go by a lot of different names: Visual Composer, Divi and many more.

Visual Composer

What does this all mean to you?

  • Everyone wants a great looking site. But the reality is that if the pages take too long to load prospects will leave without seeing anything. Google has a tool that will estimate what percentage will leave based on their test of the performance of your site. Achieving a great looking site that is slow will cost you prospects (and your SEO).
  • The developer that builds your site will not be around forever. You, as the owner of your site, should have everything documented so that any transition for any reason will be straightforward. Page builder setups can be very complex.
  • Your developer is responsible for demonstrating the ability to restore your site from the regular backups that he or she is making. Something is very wrong otherwise.
  • One of WordPress’ great strengths is the ability to update its look while keeping all of your content completely intact. If a developer says that they need to start completely over it will damage your SEO. This is only necessary if the previous developer damaged your site or that the new developer is not sufficiently trained.

sem[c] has been asked to optimize a number of different varieties of page builders recently and they all had speed-of-performance issues that needed to be addressed. More specifically, we were engaged to work on a site that we found to be using a suite of plug-ins called Pagelines. Like each of the other page builders it has its adherents but the sheer number of plugins that it uses sent up a red flag from our SEO point of view. The unfortunate part of this story is that the developer was tasked by the client to move this WordPress website into the Visual Composer page builder. Without saying why, this developer used Pagelines instead but didn’t inform the client. In addition, the developer used paid licenses that belonged to his company NOT the client’s. This meant that when he was removed as the administrator the site stopped working. Completely.

It’s not feasible or cost-effective for most business owners to study web development to the level of detail that has been discussed above. That fact should suggest that having a separate SEO consultant on board in conjunction with site development is a good idea. It is.

For more good ideas contact us or call 773.769.7362.