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.

Do you know these seven things about your website?

Why you need to know:

After a particularly difficult SEO setup it occurred to me that I spend a lot of time cleaning up after web developers… especially those who mistakenly claim that they are “SEO experts”. This assignment brought to mind the definition of “expert” as being made up of “X, the unknown” and “spurt, a short burst”. In this project the developer had seemingly done everything he could to tie the client to his company’s accounts. The WordPress website was dependent on paid plugins that belonged to the developer, NOT to the client. When the developer was removed as administrator his company’s plugins disappeared and crippled the site. Even the Google Analytics was his account, not the client’s. The website was almost perfectly booby-trapped.

This kind of behavior by a developer represents a conundrum for me because web developers that don’t claim to be SEO experts are the absolutely best fit with sem[c] as alliance partners. Virtually every business website will benefit from professional SEO. Many SEO clients will, sooner or later, want or need a new website design. While a deep understanding of web development is critical to the successful practice of SEO the two areas are really quite different.

One of the biggest differences is in the area of graphic design. Recently new designer interfaces like Divi, PageLines and others have become popular for the freedom and ease that they offer graphic designers to create visually elaborate websites. This graphical freedom comes at a cost. By injecting additional code into every page these design layers dilute the optimization of every page and can slow site performance. From an SEO point of view the graphic design of a typical site is only part of the user experience and can impress nobody unless there is traffic to the site. Graphic design does not drive traffic to most websites. On the other hand, graphic design that loads a webpage too slowly or is confusing will quickly drive visitors away before they take any action that benefits the business that owns the website.

sem[c] has tested and implemented highly technical accommodations to mitigate a lot of the SEO problems introduced by easy-design software tools–but not every design can be fully corrected.

There are a few things that you should talk about with your web developer:

WordPress Dashboard
WordPress Dashboard

  • Is your site developed in WordPress? If not, how is it built?
  • Does your site rely on any paid subscriptions that are not in your name?
  • What is your site’s result at  and what can be done if the result is poor?


In addition, you should have the administrative usernames and passwords for:

  1. Your domain name(s) registrar. This is where your domain is controlled and the fees are paid. Any and all domains should all be in your name not the developer’s.
  2. Your web hosting accounting. This should also be in your company’s name
  3. Your Google account that is the owner of your Google Analytics.
  4. Your paid advertising accounts. sem[c] always create these in your name. Many other companies do placement under their accounts. Their self-serving practice prevents you from directly accessing important information about your advertising.

If you or anyone you know needs assistance sem[c] has a long and successful history of solving problems related to websites. Visit for more information or just contact us now.

A new (and free) emailer for Gmail

Optimizing Gmail with sem[c]Use Gmail to drive traffic to your business’ website

At sem[c] we firmly believe that your business’ website is the nexus of your online presence. You have more control about the content, presentation and resulting data with your website than any flavor of social media or search engine. Email can be a great way to get people to visit your website. Gmail has been sem[c]’s goto email client for many years. We especially like the ease of Contact management.

A new Chrome plug-in lets you use your Contacts for emailing marketing

sem[c] has tested the  Sendtu plug-in which installs easily, gives you a wide variety of templates to modify, has many reporting options and, importantly, let’s you send emails to groups of your contacts in a way that you have already chosen. Other types of email marketing programs can be great but there is always a great deal of maintenance necessary to keep bounced emails and unsubscribes synchronized between any email marketing program and Gmail.

Sentu appears in your familiar Gmail interface:

Sendtu by sem[c]


The dropdown menu gives you the choices of Templates, Editor, Emails and Reports:

Sendtu menu by sem[c]

The Themes all support rich media and give the viewer an option to open the email in a browser for email clients that don’t support HTML. After you finish preparing your email, Sendtu allows you to send a test to make sure everything’s working. You add the recipients to your mailing list either from your Gmail Contacts or individually if you prefer. As soon as you press “Send” your email gets added to the Reports:

Sendtu Reports by sem[c]

Clicking on the email title displays a detailed report on clicks generated by the links within your email:

Sendtu detailed report by sem[c]


All in all this represents a very elegant, usable and useful tool to add to your marketing arsenal. It’s powerful and the price is right (free). If you’ve tried other approaches to email marketing and found them to be too much work from the standpoint of contact management or too expensive Sendtu is something that you should take a look at.  If you have any questions or would like some help with implementation please Contact sem[c].

Privacy Policy

Last updated: April 4, 2017

Search Engine Marketing Chicago, Inc. (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates  (the “Site”). This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use and disclosure of Personal Information we receive from users of the Site. We use your Personal Information only for providing and improving the Site. By using the Site, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy.

Information Collection And Use

While using our Site, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you. Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to your name (“Personal Information”).

Log Data

Like many site operators, we collect information that your browser sends whenever you visit our Site (“Log Data”). This Log Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol (“IP”) address, browser type, browser version, the pages of our Site that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages and other statistics. In addition, we may use third party services such as Google Analytics that collect, monitor and analyze this information.


We may use your Personal Information to contact you with newsletters, marketing or promotional materials and other information that will inform you about work performed by us.


Cookies are files with small amount of data, which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a web site and stored on your computer’s hard drive. Like many sites, we use “cookies” to collect information. You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Site.


The security of your Personal Information is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage, is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Information, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy is effective as of April 4, 2017 and will remain in effect except with respect to any changes in its provisions in the future, which will be in effect immediately after being posted on this page. We reserve the right to update or change our Privacy Policy at any time and you should check this Privacy Policy periodically. Your continued use of the Service after we post any modifications to the Privacy Policy on this page will constitute your acknowledgment of the modifications and your consent to abide and be bound by the modified Privacy Policy. If we make any material changes to this Privacy Policy, we will notify you either through the email address you have provided us, or by placing a prominent notice on our website.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us.

The SEO of Speed and Security

The SEO of Speed and Security

“What is SEO?” I ask, rhetorically.

The most common answer: “You know, keywords and stuff…”

SEO in 2017 will involve much more than keywords, although they are still definitely part of the mix. Google has been penalizing sites that don’t render properly on small screens like phones for some time. Part of that usability standard is the speed with which the site loads. You really don’t want to see this for your site:

SEO speed problem

As in most optimization items this is something that you probably already react to when you visit a site. How long do you stick around if the site doesn’t load right away? A couple of seconds? Five? Would you wait for 10 seconds? You know that if it takes too long you will decide at some point that it’s not working and leave. Google’s algorithms work the same way.

Fixing a slow site can be a complicated process. First, you need to acquire some hard facts about your website. A site like can help. Here are the results from sem[c]’s site:

SEO of speed


As you can see the site has been highly optimized and is more loading quickly that 98% of tested sites. Our site was created in WordPress which has become a very popular website authoring environment. It has not been noted in the past for its speed, however. There are many adjustments that are necessary to get the site to load this quickly:

  • The WordPress theme is designed for speed
  • The site is hosted on a managed WordPress server
  • The site is behind a combination firewall and Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Numerous tweaks to code and content have been implemented

One adjustment that will be implemented next on our site is the security certificate. According to this article from WordPress an SSL security certificate will become necessary to even use aspects of WordPress beginning in 2017:

In addition, the Chrome browser will begin warning users in January when they request a non-SSL site:

Please note that each of the above two links are secured by SSL. Both of these sources are practicing what they preach about SSL and that leaves no doubt of its effect on SEO.

Achieving high quality SEO is a constantly changing target. It is not simply a matter of you picking a few keywords that you think might work. We can help you get your website the SEO speed and security that will benefit your business.

Get ready for the new year by contacting sem[c] today for an audit of your website’s SEO or to start a program to make it faster and safer.

If you bring an Internet-related lawsuit, where will the court hear the case?

Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China

This is not a simple matter and it won’t be adjudicated on the Internet. Personal jurisdiction is the power of a court over the parties in the case.  Before a court can exercise power over a party, the constitution requires that the party have certain minimum contacts with the forum in which the court sits. But what constitutes a minimum contact in the online world?

I was retained by an IP attorney to serve as a consulting expert. The case concerned an interview that his client gave to a website, which served as an endorsement of the manner in which the website supported the specifics of the client’s field. After the website changed their policy the client asked to be removed from the site. The owner of the website attempted to impose conditions that were unacceptable.

Because the website’s owner was out-of-state and the client was in Illinois the attorney wanted my help in establishing jurisdictional facts.

What has any of this got to do with Internet marketing? A lot.

There are a number of ways that a website can make money. Two that were apparent on the website in question were affiliate marketing and display advertising. There were two affiliate marketing ads on the front page which would pay the site a percentage of any sales resulting from clicks. There was one prominent video-based display ad in addition to the two affiliate ads.

As a result of my examination of the underlying code of this website we were able to establish a defensible basis for jurisdiction in Illinois. At least one of the affiliate marketing ads was for a business based in Illinois. A number of different advertisers’ display ads, including at least one of the aggregators of these ads, were based in Illinois. Incidentally, Google AdSense was one of the suppliers of these ads and Google has a large presence in Chicago. Furthermore, we were also able to establish that geo-targeting was being used. This is a critical part of establishing jurisdiction.

All of this research and investigation was necessary in order to make the argument that the case could rightfully be heard in Illinois. In order to be represented the website’s owner would need to retain a local attorney in the forum state.

This must have had an effect on the website owner.  When the papers were served, the owner unilaterally removed the offending materials from the website without any conditions.

This case was over before it started.

Contact us if you need help with a matter of personal jurisdiction or other matters requiring expertise in search engine optimization.


1 “Personal jurisdiction ­ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” 2011. 21 Jun. 2016
2 “Personal Jurisdiction | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII …” 2015. 21 Jun. 2016
3 “Affiliate marketing ­ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” 2011. 22 Jun. 2016
4 “Display advertising ­ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” 2011. 22 Jun. 2016