Category Archives: Small Business SEO

Buffalo SEO Company

Make sure your website designer or SEO guy has a face

Post by Roger Firestien of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University of New York- Buffalo State.

Earlier this year I decided to update my website. It had gotten pretty stale. Because my old website was dated and because I wasn’t keeping up with my web presence, I decided to find a company that could optimize my web presence for my new website. I didn’t know anyone locally at the time so I did some research online and came across a company in Orange County California that looked like the people who could enhance my presence on the web.

I sent the company an email on a Friday afternoon and to my surprise the president of the company called me two days later on a Sunday afternoon. We had a lovely talk and he assured me that his company could help. Later that week, I had my “on-boarding call” with one of the account representatives who got all of the requirements for what I wanted them to accomplish, along with my credit card information so that they could charge me monthly for their services.

At first, I started to see some results in how my site began to rank. I also received monthly reports from the company detailing all of the technical data that told me how many links they were creating. Several months into the campaign I emailed the president asking to schedule a conversation with him. Four days passed and I didn’t get a response back from him. When I called the company asking to speak to him I was told that he was on vacation and that he would be on vacation for two months. I did however speak to my account representative who assured me that things were going just as planned.

Early last month, I sent an email to my account representative and didn’t hear anything back from him. When I called the company, I was told that he had left the firm. When I asked to speak to the president I was told that he was on a leave of absence… INDEFINITELY. I was assigned to another account representative.

Two weeks later, nothing had changed with my rankings and I noticed on my September report from the company that they were sending me results of work they had done in July. Not good!

During the time I was working with the California folks, I began to teach some creativity workshops at DIG at the Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Sam Insalaco attended a number of my workshops and I got to know him. I later found out that he did website design and search engine optimization (SEO).

Several weeks ago I decided to do some further research on the California SEO company. I typed in the president’s name, the name of the company and the word “scam” in Google. Sure enough, there were several scam reports on him and his company. When I looked up his company on the Better Business Bureau web site, I found that the BBB had assigned his company an “F” grade. Really not good!

Last week I got in touch with Sam and explained the problems I was having with the SEO company. I met with Sam the following Monday, hired him to do my SEO work and fired the folks in California.

When I started writing this blog my intention was to write about creativity and how you can apply creativity methods to make your website more appealing. I decided instead to pass along some things that I learned about the SEO process and how important it is to have a good relationship with the person who is helping to represent you on the web.

Here is my advice.

First, there are lots of companies out there that claim to be able to boost your web presence or get rid of items on the web that might be damaging to your reputation. I am not an expert, but in doing some research on these companies it looks to me that most of them don’t do what they promise.

Second, get recommendations from folks in your area that have worked with SEO firms. Unfortunately when I started working with the company in California I didn’t know anyone that could direct me toward a reputable company, so I was stuck with someone who I had never met face to face, that was eager to take my money, show me bogus linking reports and assure me that they were doing a good job.

Finally, and this is the most important part, make sure that your SEO person is someone you can meet with in person. That person should be willing to sit down with you face-to-face and talk to you about your goals for your web presence, which is exactly what Sam and I do.

It’s About the Content

Content Marketing comes down to the ContentWe have a process here at theBREWROOM. Whether we are redesigning an existing website, designing a new website, or reviewing a website and coming up with SEO recommendations, it always, Always, ALWAYS comes down to the content. No matter what your website is about, or what you are selling, or who you are selling it to, the one thing that needs to be done right is the content. It needs to be clear what you do, who you do it for, and why someone should hire you. If this is not clear, you have failed. We were recently asked if we had one specific piece of advice to offer to other developers that are looking to incorporate Search Engine Optimization into their website development process. We answered with:  “Always include SEO at the beginning of the process.” This means that it is not something that you do when you’re done designing a site. It’s not something that you do when you have already built your site, and you’re reviewing it with a client, or your team. It’s something that you do right from the start. After all, you are not just optimizing your site for search engines. You are optimizing your site for your customers, and to do that, you need to do the work at the beginning of your process.

Basic content marketing pointers:

  • Keep content short and to the point. Nobody wants to read a book on your site.
  • Make the content have a purpose – why do you want someone to read this?
  • Include clear calls to action – what do you want the user to do next?
  • Support your copy and content with an interesting or meaningful image. It has been proven that people like visuals.
  • Check your spelling! If you’re spelling things wrong and using poor grammar, then you won’t look professional.

Thanks for listening. Please share if you agree with the points mentioned above.

SEO is NOT an Afterthought

SEO Tip #3

This article is less of a lesson about Search Engine Optimization, but more of a reminder.

Small Business SEO TipsIf you don’t realize it already, then you should know that SEO is not an afterthought when it comes to redoing or building your website. It should not be something that you think about addressing once your new site is live. It should be something that occurs at the very beginning of your website project.

Like we talked about in “Optimization is so much more“, there are many things for which you want to optimize. It is very hard to do this after the fact, once you have already designed and built the structure of your website. It’s basically (almost) too late. You have already structured your content, written your page content, written your URLs, etc…

Bring SEO to the front of your process and you will be surprised to see how it helps you organize your project.

That is all, for now.

Small Business SEO Tip #2

This is the second in a series of posts about Search Engine Optimization for

In case you missed the first post, you can find it here: Small Business SEO Tip #1.

Tip #2 – Use a Content Management System

What is a Content Management System?

Small Business SEO TipsA content management system (CMS) is exactly as it sounds. It is a system that you use to build the structure and content of your website. It consists of at least a few components: a database, page format template(s), and a back-end management tool. There are a lot of moving parts and details that I didn’t list here, as I don’t want to make this an overly technical piece. Basically, you use a CMS to build the structure of your site, and to add/edit the content of your site. This includes text on the pages, media storage (images, video, documents), user access and so much more!

Why is a Content Management System Important?

A content management system allows you to maintain your website more easily than if your site were to be developed from scratch using static HTML or another web programming language. Meaning, you don’t need to know a programming language in order to edit the pages of your website. You won’t need to know how to create a new page from scratch, upload it to your server and add it to your menu/navigation. There are tools within the CMS that do this stuff for you.

You can even give multiple people access to your CMS to perform different tasks for you. This can be anything from Administrative access to the full system, the ability to add new content, just edit existing content, or just view existing content. There are LOTS of options here if you aren’t able to constantly maintain a site yourself.

Say you wanted to move some things around on your main navigation of your website. This would be VERY easy using any of the top CMS tools out there. If you wanted to do this on a static HTML website, then you would have to edit the code yourself, assuming you even have access to do that.

What are the best Content Management Systems?

In our opinion, WordPress is the most versatile, user-friendly, as well as feature-rich CMS out there. You can run anything from a simple blog about your morning coffee, to a full e-commerce site on WordPress. There are also thousands of plugins and themes that you can use to make your site look more unique and to add functionality that you would otherwise need to hire someone to develop for you.

Here are some popular content management systems:

Popular CMS Tools:

  • WordPress
  • concrete5
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • Expression Engine
  • Orchard Project

Popular e-Commerce CMS Tools:

  • Prestashop
  • Magento
  • OpenCart
  • Shopify
  • ZenCart

Here is a more expanded list of content management systems, should you need more information.

How do I Know Which CMS is Best For My Needs?

There are several factors that might influence your choice in content management systems. Sometimes, you are locked into a web hosting agreement that requires you to pick a CMS that will work on that hosting environment. You would need to check with your hosting provider and see which operating system and software their web servers will support – Apache, PHP, Microsoft, Java, etc…

You may also be previously familiar with a CMS and want to stay with it, since you’re most comfortable with it.

Your choice in web design and development companies will also have a lot to do with what CMS you end up using. Some companies will prefer one system over another. theBrewRoom prefers WordPress, for the reasons listed above.

That should cover it for today. We hope that you find these tips to be helpful! If there is something that you have a question about, or if you have a suggestion for a future Tip post, let us know.

Thanks for reading!

Small Business SEO Tip #1

Today, we are going to start a short series of SEO Tips for Small Businesses. These tips are aimed to educate and help small businesses make the improvements that are needed in order to improve their rankings.

Tip #1 – Improve User Experience

Small Business SEO TipsLet’s start off with a nice and easy stretch…

Before we get into any details and specifics about things that you should fix on your website in order to improve your search rankings, we should put first things first.

Your website is where you want people land, and hopefully convert into a customer. In order for this to happen, a few things must occur:

  1. They need to find your site
  2. They need to understand what you do, and what you have to offer
  3. They need to be able to be able to easily understand what the next steps should be
  4. They need to contact you

In our opinion, at this point in the game, #1 should be the last thing that you should be concentrating on. What you really need to do FIRST, is to ask yourself: “Who is my customer, and what do they want to see/do on my site?”. Once you are able to answer that question, you should then ask yourself: “Are my [potential] customers able to do that on my site?” or “Can my customers find the information that they need quickly, and is it presented clearly, with clear steps of what the customer should do next?”. If the answers to those questions are a little unclear, or if you’re questioning yourself here, this is a good place to be. You’re ready to start improving your user experience.

What is the point of sending potential customers to your website, if your website isn’t able to help you convert those visitors into real leads? You MUST MUST MUST fix the first things first. Make it easy, clear and fast for visitors to your site to be able to find the information that they need, and then act on it!

Once we have that in place, we can move on. But until that it fixed, I wouldn’t move forward with anything else. Seriously. Fix your site. Then fix your search rankings. You may actually find that your search rankings increase a little bit naturally from this exercise.

Contact theBrewRoom for Small Business SEO Help