What Does it Mean to be a Marketing and Communications Agency?

What Does it Mean to be a Marketing and Communications Agency?At Asterisk Creative, we pride ourselves on being an award-winning marketing and communications agency. But what exactly does that mean?

Bascially, a marketing and communications agency takes a full-service approach. We understand that no matter the set up, marketing must work with public relations which must work with digital and so on and so forth. It’s best for all involved when all of those entities can be under one roof.

At Asterisk Creative, we have teams that are segmented by specialty. However, we all work together to offer you a holistic approach. Whether you’re in need of branding, public relations, SEO, social media management, marketing materials, web design and development, or some combination thereof, our teams work together to make sure your messaging is cohesive and your overall goals are met. All of your campaigns are multi-faceted, and all facets are designed to work together. Your marketing communications are custom-designed to speak to your company and each of its target audiences. What you get in return is a higher lead generation count which ups your potential to increase sales. This is exactly what you should expect from a marketing and communications agency worth its salt.

If this sounds like the type of help you need – or that you’ll be looking for in the new year – give us a shout. We’d love to add you to our client roster and get your business going gangbusters!

Is SEO a One and Done Service?

Is SEO a One and Done Service? | SEO Maintenance | Asterisk Creative | Marketing AgencyMost people understand the basics of search engine optimization. They understand that there are various elements of a website that need to be updated in a way that is “readable” by the search engines, even if they don’t know which elements those are or what the proper way of updating them is. But a lot of folks ask: Is SEO a one-and-done service? Once a site is optimized, is that all there is to it? Or is SEO maintenance necessary?

The short answer is no, SEO is not a one-and-done service.

Having all of the proper elements of a site optimized is only one part of SEO. The search engines’ algorithms also look at how recently websites – and their individual pages – were optimized. So if you look at SEO as a one-and-done service, you will likely get a bump in the immediate time after making the changes. But as soon as one competitor…and the next…and the next update their sites, you lose your edge. The older your changes become, the less effective they are.

SEO maintenance is all but required these days. The work is not nearly as in-depth as the initial optimization. And not all pages need re-optimization at once. One tactic is to take a look at your Google Analytics, see which pages have a high number of impressions but a low click-through rate, then prioritize those for your SEO maintenance efforts to try and get the click-through rate higher. Another way to perform SEO maintenance is to look at queries driving traffic to your site, compare that to your bounce rate, then optimize existing pages or create new pages around those terms. In any case, you’re killing multiple SEO birds with one stone – fresh content built around targeted queries, a better user experience based on fresh, targeted content, and all the little pieces the algorithms look for in a site.

The SEO team at Asterisk Creative understands SEO maintenance first hand. They spend their days putting SEO best practices in place, and staying on top of changes made to the algorithms. This keeps our clients’ optimization efforts and SEO maintenance plans can also be on point. Ready to take your optimization efforts to the next level? Give us a shout today!

Social Media for SEO

Social Media for SEO | Asterisk Creative | Social Media | SEOSocial media outlets have changed the way people interact with each other and with businesses. In addition, they’ve also changed the way search engine optimization works, to an extent. Here’s how the search engines use social media for SEO.

For starters, it’s worth noting that all of the search engines do not treat social media outlets the same when it comes to SEO and organic rankings. Bing, for example, takes a company’s presence on each social media outlet directly into account when figuring organic rankings. The larger the presence, the more likely a company’s page is to receive a high organic ranking for that outlet.

On the other hand, Google has stated outright that social media doesn’t directly play into ranking considerations. However, studies of Google searches have shown a seeming correlation between larger presences on social media and higher organic rankings in search results.

In the end, it all comes down to links. While Google doesn’t count followers, its algorithm does take into account the links leading to a business’ website. Additionally, Google takes into account how often those links are clicked. For Google, this includes links posted on social media sites.

Basically, as more folks share your links, it positively affects your organic rankings, no matter the search engine. So build your social media strategy around writing website content that people find interesting and useful and, as a result, want to share. When people consider your link relevant and share it, the search engine algorithms take notice. In turn, they bump your website up the organic rankings.

If you need assistance with building your social media strategy, SEO strategy, content marketing, or in making them all work together, give Asterisk Creative a call! Our team is well-versed in results-driven strategies to help your business grow!

Is Image Alt Data Really Important for SEO?

Is Image Alt Data Really Important for SEO? | Asterisk Creative | SEO in the SoutheastWhen it comes to search engine optimization, there are several elements that should – no, NEED to – be optimized. Most people with a general knowledge of SEO know that the on-page content should include keywords you’d like the page to show for in the search results. With a little deeper understanding of SEO, you learn that title tags are among the first places the search engines look for information about the page and that each page needs its own unique, keyword-rich meta description – for the benefit of the search engines and for searchers. But an element that many overlook or underestimate is the image alt data. Is image alt data really important for SEO?

If your images are properly optimized with titles and/or alt data that includes relevant keywords, they will be more likely to show up in an image search for those terms. This has the potential to increase the visibility of, and the amount of traffic to, your website. In turn, it has the potential to generate leads and ultimately sales for your business, particularly if your website design is built with the best practices for conversion in place.

More than likely, this will not be a huge increase. But this effort only takes few minutes per image, in general. If that turns into just one more sale per month, the effort will likely end up paying for itself multiple times over.

Our SEO team is well-versed in image optimization, as well as other on-page SEO techniques. And our website design team knows how to built sites meant to convert. When you’re ready to take your website to the next level, give Asterisk Creative a call!

An SEO Primer for Business Owners

An SEO Primer for Business Owners | Asterisk CreativeSEO, or search engine optimization, helps your website get found by the search engines for appropriate search queries. And it’s not just for the overall site – it’s for each page of the site, too! This SEO primer gives you the elements where you’ll need to focus to get your optimization efforts started.

  • Keyword Research
    Start with the Google Analytics and Google Search Console available for your site. Look at what pages are visited most often and what searchers are typing in to get there. If the queries are good matches, you’re off to a good start. If not, you have a bit more work to do, but it’s not impossible to fix. After that, use the Google Keyword Tool to take a peek at what other queries people are using to find your goods or services. Edit this list to fit your business, and you’ve got a great start on your SEO.
  • Title Tags
    This is the first place the search engines look to determine what the page is about. Your title tags should be keyword-rich and descriptive without going overboard into keyword stuffing.
  • Meta Descriptions
    Each page should have a unique meta description. This is the information about the page that shows in the search engine results pages (SERPs). In addition to using your keywords for the search engines’ benefit, you’ll also need to make the content read well to the human eye. This ensures searchers want to click through to your site.
  • On-Page Content
    There is a specific percentage of times the search engines look for your keywords within your overall copy on each page. Though the search engines won’t release what exactly that percentage is, most SEO practitioners and SEO plugins have an educated guess. This is your keyword concentration. You risk not being indexed for terms you want to be found for when you fall below this percentage. If you go above this percentage, you risk being “punished” for keyword stuffing.
  • Image Alt Data
    This piece is often overlooked. While it’s not necessarily the most important piece of the SEO puzzle, it tells the search engines what they’re “seeing” in your images. When your image is indexed for a particular keyword, the page it’s associated with on your site is also indexed. This helps pages within your site be found for even more terms.

At Asterisk Creative, our SEO team stays on top of SEO best practices and changes to the search engines’ algorithms, so we know how to implement these items in the manner that will best help your business. Seem like too much to take on for yourself? We get it! Contact us for SEO help today!

Take Advantage of Local SEO

Local SEO Tips | Asterisk Creative | Southeast's premier digital marketing agencyFor medium and small businesses, it may seem a daunting task to take on large corporations when it comes to SEO. But with the increase in local-based searches, the search engines’ algorithms have adjusted to provide the best results. Here’s how to take advantage of local SEO.

  • Verify your Google My Business page.
    The verification process is pretty painless, and it gives you ultimate control of information being fed directly to Google. Anyone can submit edits to Google on business pages – including your competitors. When you verify your pages, the edits have to be approved by YOU before they publish to the internet. Conversely, edits to unverified pages just need to be approved by Google. If your page is unverified and someone marks your business as closed, if Google decides to publish that, your business will show as closed to anyone who searches for your business or your services. Is not verifying you page really worth that risk?
  • Make sure your physical address is on your website, preferably in the header and/or footer.
    When searches include a neighborhood name, a zip code, or the phrase “near me”, the search engines do their best to find results that actually fit that parameter. As a result, having your physical address on your site provides indexable data to make your site match appropriately. Without that information on your site, you are probably missing out on showing to potential customers.
  •  Include your neighborhood name or locale in your title tags, meta descriptions, image alt data, and on-page copy.
    The principle behind this is the same as including your physical address on your site. Having this data included in indexable areas that show to searchers and site visitors similarly increases the likelihood that your site will show in the search results, will garner a click-through, and convert into a lead and/or customer.

Does this sound like too much to take on all on your own? We get it. Trust your SEO to Asterisk Creative today.

What Does Mobile Search Mean for Website Design?

Website Design for Mobile Searches | Asterisk Creative | Southeast's Premier Website Design AgencyBack in the day (like, 7 years ago or so), websites showed on computers and phones were just…phones. With the advent of internet-enabled phones and then smartphones, all of that started to change. Websites didn’t render properly on these smaller devices, so changes had to be made. So what does the rise in mobile searches mean for website design?

The initial reaction by website designers was to create, in essence, two sites – one that would load when a search came from a laptop or desktop computer, one that would load when the search came from a mobile device. This is still a recognized practice, though it’s fallen a bit out of favor. The search engines tend to see the sites as two separate sites, one with duplicate content of the other, and this tends to hurt your organic rankings.

With mobiles searches increasingly on the rise, the search engines – and Google, in particular – are moving toward mobile-first indexing. This means they’re focusing more on how sites load on mobile devices than on computers. To keep up and maintain organic rankings, website designers and webmasters need to shift their focus as well. Moving to responsive web designs is a great place to start. Responsive website designs adjust automatically to fit the screen on which the searcher/visitor is viewing the site. This eliminates the problem of separate sites/duplicate content while creating a better user experience across the board.

Mobile searches are also more likely to include the phrase “near me” in the queries. Website designers and SEO practitioners alike should ensure elements like a business’ address and/or neighborhood are clearly listed in multiple places on a website to match these queries appropriately.

Website design for mobile searches is important. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Contact Asterisk Creative for website design help today.

Putting Machine Learning to Use for You

Putting Machine Learning to Use for You | Asterisk Creative | Southeast's Premier Marketing AgencyMachine learning is defined on Wikipedia as “a subset of artificial intelligence in the field of computer science that often uses statistical techniques to give computers the ability to “learn” (i.e., progressively improve performance on a specific task) with data, without being explicitly programmed.” Simply put, it’s the technology that allows tasks like Google’s auto-complete function and “near me” searches to work.

At Asterisk Creative, we work behind the scenes to make machine learning work for you. Our SEO team works to optimize websites to allow our client’s sites to show in the results for appropriate popular search terms Google uses in its auto-complete function. Additionally, our SEO and social media teams work together to optimize outlets to ensure our clients show in the results for appropriate “near me” searches. These outlets include Google My Business pages, Facebook about pages, Twitter and Instagram bios, and more. (As a side note: Google says that mobile searches for “near me” terms have increased more than three times in the past two years, so showing in these results is getting more and more important, particularly for brick and mortar businesses.)

As machine learning grows, not optimizing around this technology stands to leave you and your business in the dust. Let us make machine learning work for you, too. Contact Asterisk Creative today to get started!


Is Your Site Secure? Google to Require SSL Certificates

Is You Site Secure? Google to Require SSL Certificates | Asterisk CreativeWith all of the security breaches and data breaches in the news lately, it should come as no surprise that Google is making moves to make the internet a safer place. In one such move, Google is going to require SSL certificates for all sites soon.

First things first. What is an SSL certificate? SSL stands for secure sockets layer. The certificate being on the site creates an encrypted link between the server and the browser so that all data remains private. In effect, this technology protects site visitors from cybercriminals.

After Google implements this SSL requirement, sites without an SSL certificate will be flagged as “not secure”, alerting searchers that visiting that site may put their data at risk. Obviously, this will be a deterrent for potential site visitors, and your website’s traffic will invariably suffer. In addition, sites without SSL certificates will be “dinged” in the organic search results, no matter what other SEO (search engine optimization) work has been done on the site.

This move had been slated to take effect in July, but Google has pushed the deadline back to September for now. This may change again – to be pushed back to later than September or moved up to sooner. Get your site set now. Contact Asterisk Creative for your next steps today!

Asterisk Creative – Your Digital Marketing One-Stop Shop

digital marketing agency | asterisk creativeThere are a lot of components to digital marketing. In general, it is comprised of website design and development, SEO, social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising. Basically, it’s any marketing and advertising that appears online.

Many freelancers and solopreneurs fancy themselves digital marketers, jacks-of-all-trades so to speak. We’re here to tell you that that’s nearly impossible. Keeping up with algorithm changes, privacy laws, best practices, and such across one or two digital marketing platforms can be a full-time job in and of itself. One person may be able to do well across the board, but they cannot really excel.

At Asterisk Creative, we understand this and have a team behind your digital marketing. We have folks that focus solely on social media, solely on website design, solely on SEO – and each knows their specialty inside and out. They work and train to stay on top of the latest and greatest in their field, and they put that knowledge to work for our clients. Additionally, they work together to make sure all of the client’s digital marketing elements are working together favorably and promoting the brand appropriately.

Don’t trust your digital marketing to just anyone. To get your digital marketing going full speed, contact Asterisk Creative today.