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Digital Marketing Strategy

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Hire a Marketing Agency or Keep It In-House? What You Need to Know

In today’s marketplace, how you promote your business to the world is crucial. Where does one even start? There are a few different options on how to achieve a successfully marketed business – doing it yourself with the help of services like HubSpot or Hootsuite, hiring a single marketing professional to sit in-house, or hiring a marketing agency. How does one decide? What’s best for the business? Here’s a look into each of these options:


Doing it yourself:

Pro: This is the cheapest option – but without time or professional training in marketing this can quickly shift from a cost effective route to an expensive route. Running social media accounts and doing email marketing for small businesses is realistic, and having some presence is better than having no presence at all.

Con: They say time is money, when one spends time trying to market a business rather than recruiting or selling, then time isn’t being spent efficiently or within one’s wheel house. Taking on marketing while trying to juggle the rest of the work load will only lead to something falling through the cracks or not getting the attention it deserves.

Related Post: Top 5 Questions Business Owners Have About Digital Marketing ➢


Hiring a Marketing Professional:

Pro: Recent college graduates are a cost effective way of taking marketing in-house. Young, eager to work, and hungry, these young professionals bring enthusiasm and energy to your business. In-house marketers allow for streamlined processes and development of strategy along with having that “go-to” person on staff.

Con: Having a single staff member in-house handling marketing duties usually means a sacrifice in certain skill sets. An ideal marketing team is well versed in social media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), pay per click, email marketing, and writing. It’s difficult to find a person that is an expert in all these areas, and under most circumstances it’s far too much to ask of one individual to be the expert in all of these things. The workload could quickly overwhelm an employee leading to a high turnover rate.


Hire a Marketing Agency:

Pro: The right agency acts as a partner and has your company’s business objectives in mind. Working together as a team, the agency and your business can see results. An agency gives you access to all the facets of marketing needed in today’s competitive environment, from social media strategy and implementation to SEO and email marketing, an agency has a team waiting to work with businesses.

Con: Working with an agency could be more expensive than hiring one employee. An agency typically has a fewer number of hours to spend on your account when compared to hiring one employee or even doing it yourself in some cases. However, these fewer hours are spent more efficiently and with the proper topic expert, which you can’t guarantee with the other two solutions.

Related Post: 4 Ways to Build an Effective Relationship With Your Marketing Agency ➢


Which is right for you?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every business has different needs that warrant a different solution. Hiring an agency is a low-risk solution that alleviates the cons of going at it alone or hiring an in-house employee while providing all the benefits such as a team with diverse knowledge on all of today’s online marketing channels.


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Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO: What’s the Difference?

The difference between Black Hat & White Hat SEO refers to the techniques used when trying to improve a website’s search engine ranking.

Black Hat SEO:

Focuses on utilizing techniques and strategies to deceive search engines into ranking their particular websites higher on search results.  It’s typically used by those looking to see immediate & quick results, rather than a long-term investment.  Often times Black hat SEO focuses on only search engines and not so much a human audience. Black Hat techniques that are seen as deceptive and violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines include:

  • Keyword Stuffing: “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.
  • Hidden Text: i.e. using white text on a white background, setting font size to 0, hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph, etc.
  • Link Farming: Links intended to manipulate PageRank1  or a site’s ranking in search results (i.e. buying or selling links that pass PageRank, excessive link exchanges (“Link to me & I’ll link to you”)
  • And More

While these techniques can provide quick and immediate SEO results – and may seem appealing in the short run -consequences can result in your site being banned from a search engine (most likely Google) and or ranking penalties.  This means people won’t be able to find your site organically, defeating any short lasted traffic/sales/leads you may have gained from Black Hat techniques.

“Black hat SEO focuses on search engines and not so much a human audience.”2

White Hat SEO:

White Hat techniques target human audiences rather than simply search engines.

Techniques and strategies typically utilized in White Hat SEO include: conducting keyword analysis and keyword research, rewriting meta/page titles and meta descriptions to speak more specifically about what the page is about, writing and creating quality content for HUMAN READERS, internal backlinking and natural link building, just to name a few.  However, probably the most important White Hat SEO technique is creating quality content.

White Hat SEO is a long-term investment and takes time to build and see ROI, however the pro is that the results last a long time.

Related Post: How Long Does it Take for SEO to Produce Results? ➢

“Creating quality content may be time consuming, but it will be well worth it in the long run. […] The more content-rich your site is, the more valuable it will appear to the search engines and human visitors/ customers/ clients.”

Related Posts:

1 PageRank – (PR) is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in their search engine results, and is a way of measuring the importance of website pages. IT IS NOT THE ONLY ALGORITHM USED BY GOOGLE to order search results

2 & 3 Quoted from Unamo University – online marketing resource center

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How Long Does It Take for SEO to Produce Results?

When it comes to digital marketing, people ask me this question a lot: “how long will it take for SEO to produce results?” No matter what industry your business is in—whether your company is looking to create or improve their digital presence—this is an all too familiar question that everyone wants to know the answer to. Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple.

Over the past decade, SEO has evolved significantly. It now better reflects a website’s overall quality and the relevance of user’s searches, while simultaneously penalizing websites that utilize older, black hat SEO tactics that used to provide quick results—for example, low-quality link building or keyword stuffing.

Nowadays, the success of your online campaigns and the time it takes to see results can vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • The size of your SEO project(s)
  • How long your website has been around
  • If you’re currently involved in any SEO efforts
  • How much content is on your website
  • What market you’re targeting (and its saturation/ competition)
  • And most importantly: what your ultimate goal is

With so many factors at play, you need to look at SEO as an investment—not a short-term quick fix.

“SEO that generates results for your business is not a strategy that can come to fruition overnight, despite what many SEO firms and specialists may claim.”

Producing quality results takes time. SEO should be considered a long-term marketing strategy that requires thoughtful planning, cross-departmental cooperation, and a results-driven approach.

With that being said, there is a plausible scenario for what your SEO efforts might look like during the initial months and the results you might expect from its implementation.

Related Post: What is SEO? – Beyond the Keywords ➢

Initial Steps—Planning the SEO Strategy (0-2 Months)

These first few months are mostly dedicated to planning, and it’s unlikely you’ll begin achieving any noticeable results to your SEO rankings or bottom line. Depending on the size of your business, this stage can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete. This planning process includes:

  • researching relevant keywords
  • benchmarking your competitors (keywords, traffic, site performance, and online marketing initiatives)
  • auditing the performance of and content on your existing website
  • getting a better understanding of your ultimate goals

SEO Strategy Implementation (3+ Months)

After the planning process, the next step is to begin the implementation. This stage has an open-ended timeline as SEO is an ever-changing strategy that requires constant monitoring and optimization of content. As your SEO strategy matures, revisions and corrections may be needed to accommodate for new opportunities.

Stage 1 Addressing technical site & SEO issues

During this time you’ll be working on fixing the technical issues on your site that affect your search engine ranking.

Stage 2 Begin execution of long-term content marketing strategy

This includes blogging, writing, and optimizing content for product category pages, and service pages (what we call ‘$$$ pages’). A strong content strategy is likely one of the most important elements to include in your SEO efforts as it can help drive your website to the top of search engine rankings.

NOTE: You may start seeing an increase in traffic within a few weeks of publishing great content, but remember that SEO is an ongoing approach.

Related Post: SEO vs. PPC: Which One Should I Focus On? ➢

Realistic Timeline for SEO Results (7-12 Months)

While your keywords will likely start performing better prior to the 7-month mark, in all reality, 7-12 months is likely how long it will take before you start experiencing any impactful results from your SEO efforts. Google and other search engines have gotten smarter over the past few years, and they can no longer be tricked by content that’s stuffed with keywords or doesn’t make sense. Google is looking not only at your content, but also at your reputation. Is what you’re saying reputable? Do you have a history of great content? Do you have high-quality links? The more of these questions you can answer “yes” to, the better your search ranking.

Why Partner With an SEO Firm?

While you can’t take shortcuts on your way to profitable SEO, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. If you want to go about SEO the right way and potentially see results more quickly, it’s smart to partner with an SEO firm. The best SEO companies will save you months of research and implementation time by using their industry experience and expertise. Many times an SEO firm will have worked with a similar client in your industry and can leverage that experience to deliver better results for you. They can also give you a clear timeline on when you should see specific results and how they’ll deliver those results.

SEO: A Long-Term Marketing Tactic with Strong ROI Potential

It’s easy to get impatient when it comes to SEO, but success by any standard will rarely come within the first three months. If you quit after just a few months because you’re not seeing results that justify the cost, you’ve essentially just thrown away your money due to unrealistic expectations. SEO is a long-term investment—one that requires at least a budget for 6-12 months. But if you give it enough time, it’s one of the smartest long-term marketing strategies around for growing your business. Partnering with an SEO firm can help you develop a realistic timeline and see solid results that deliver a strong ROI in the long-term.

Related Post: Top 5 Questions Business Owners Have About Digital Marketing ➢

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How To Build Your Brand Through Digital Marketing

The word branding gets thrown around a lot in the business world, but what does it actually mean in the age of digital marketing? The goal of branding is to help your company establish its position in the marketplace for the long-term. It’s the way you give meaning to your products and services by creating a uniqueness in your clients (and potential clients’) minds. Branding is strategic—whereas marketing is tactical. Marketing contributes to your brand but the truth is, your brand is bigger than any one particular marketing or sales effort.

The question is no longer:
“Should we be doing digital marketing?” but rather, “how much should we be spending in order to achieve year over year growth?”

Impactful branding relies on continuity, consistency, and investment. Lack of investment and inconsistency in brand development will allow your competitors to steal market share from you. If you want to grow your company, it’s imperative that you make long-term branding a part of your focus. And it’s equally imperative in today’s world that you use digital marketing to do so. Here are four ways you can build your brand with digital marketing.


4 Ways To Build Your Brand With Digital Marketing

1. Content:

Potential clients and candidates first go online to qualify your firm’s credibility before they do anything else. So what kind of a brand story does your content tell? Everything you write and produce tells a story about who you are as a company, whether it’s the copy on your landing page or a blog that you wrote.

      • Do you sound credible?
      • Are you giving advice that is valued in the industry you serve?
      • Are you telling people things they may not already know, which ultimately adds value to their lives?
      • Do you have case studies to validate your process?

These are all essential questions to ask yourself that will contribute to your authenticity and credibility in creating industry-leading content for your brand.

2. Social Media:

Social media is a platform and ever-evolving landscape that uses content to build your brand, reputation, and credibility in the marketplace. So do you have a solid social media strategy to share your brand with potential clients and candidates? Posting insightful blogs, salary guides and best practices to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter will keep you top-of-mind for clients and candidates seeking talent or new positions. If you build an informative, reputable, and credible brand on social media you are much more likely to be the first call when an opportunity presents itself.

3. Website:

Your website is the foundation of your brand. Having a website that is outdated and underwhelming is like walking into a potential client meeting in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Your website is the face of your company these days, so what kind of shape is it in? The quality of your website will often be the deciding factor in whether or not a potential client will commit to the next step with you. While content and social media will lead people to your website, you can still write the best blog in the world and lose out on a potential client who gets turned off by a website that’s outdated or hard to navigate.

“Having a website that is outdated and underwhelming is like walking into a potential client meeting in sweatpants and a t-shirt.”
– Jared Hummel | VP, Finance


SEO and PPC are the back-end of building your brand. They’re the aspects of building your brand that aren’t always tangible to the novice eye and are usually handled by experts. This can sometimes create confusion for small business owners and scare them away from fully jumping into the digital marketing space. If you don’t understand something, it’s easy to not want to do it! But SEO and PPC are what help search engines like Google not only find you but allow you to rank at the top of the search results page. This is crucial in building your brand as a credible expert in whatever topic a potential client searches. Imagine yourself searching for an attorney on Google to represent you in a business case that could have great financial implications. When you type in best business attorneys, the first ones that come up in the search results garner instant credibility. The message is “we specialize in this, we’re the experts” and they’ll likely be the first ones you call or click on. It’s no different for recruiting; if you don’t show up in the search results until the second page, you probably aren’t getting the call.

Related Post: SEO vs. PPC: Which One Should I Focus On? ➢


Related Post: How Long Does It Take for SEO to Produce Results? ➢


How Branding Through Digital Marketing Will Pay Off

As the Vice President of Finance for Parqa and their sister Company, Versique Search & Consulting, it is easy to assume that my mentality is all about immediate ROI on any money spent on marketing—measuring all our financial metrics down to the penny to make sure we know what we’re getting. While it’s true that it is always important to know your numbers, when it comes to branding your company there are many non-immediate financial implications to creating a great brand and the metrics used to identify if your brand is growing don’t always pay off in an immediate financial ROI. There is a familiar phrase “if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound.” In an ever-changing digital marketing landscape are you being seen and heard?

As a passionate entrepreneur myself, I have spent the last 8 years helping small business owners realize their dream of growing their revenue, gross margin and net income. I understand that the role of a financial leader or business owner in a company is more then just looking at the next month’s income statement. It is imperative to be looking a year or two down the road and prepare for growth in order to achieve growth. The pay-off may not happen overnight, but if you don’t start making digital marketing a part of your branding efforts, you won’t see a pay-off at all. Two quotes that I try to live by are:


“If you’re not growing, you’re dying” and “Insanity: to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.”


While cold calling and individual reputation will always be a part of our business, if you aren’t investing in digital marketing and branding today I can guarantee you that your future growth will face a significant uphill battle as more and more people look to the internet to build trust and verify reputation.

Our CEO, Tony Sorensen just attended a staffing conference in Dallas where the common theme was not “should we be doing digital marketing?” but rather, “how much should we be spending in order to achieve year over year growth?” It’s time to leverage digital marketing to grow your brand, gain credibility, and yes, eventually see that return on investment.



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PPC vs. SEO: Which One Should I Focus On?

When it comes to boosting traffic to your website, you have two basic options: pay-per-click (PPC) or search engine optimization (SEO).

You can pay for traffic using the PPC advertising programs provided by Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. They enable you to display ads in the sponsored results section of each search engine’s results page or the feed of a social media platform. You pay a fee based on how competitive your chosen keyword is and how many clicks your ad receives.

Alternatively, you can build traffic for free by increasing your rankings in the organic search results. These are the listings displayed below the paid/sponsored results. It takes time to reach the top of the organic results for the keyword(s) related to your product/service offerings, but the free targeted traffic will prove to be well worth the investment down the road.

Related Post: Top 5 Questions Business Owners Have About Digital Marketing ➢

Which approach is better?

It depends on a multitude of factors including your needs, budget, business goals, and website quality. If you want more traffic fast and are willing to pay for it, then PPC might be right for you. But if you’re operating on a smaller budget and are ok investing in something that will take time to build & see results, optimizing your site & content to help increase your organic search rankings through SEO efforts may be a better option1.

One of the biggest problems I see with many clients is that they come in wanting immediate results, whether that’s product sales, business leads, etc. The reality is that both PPC and SEO take time to build, implement, and optimize.

The other problem is that many of these clients come in with a website that’s poorly laid out (i.e. looking like they were made in the 1990s, and very little information and content around why individuals/ businesses should buy from them or utilize their services over their competitors).

Whether you choose to invest in PPC or SEO, your website has to do an efficient job of selling your services and telling visitors (directly or indirectly) why they should work with you over another company—otherwise it doesn’t matter how much you increase your traffic.

When Should I Invest in PPC?

Let’s get to it: when should you focus on PPC instead of SEO? Your company should invest in PPC if:

  • You’re looking to quickly increase the amount of traffic coming into your site (not just conversions or leads)
  • You’re willing to spend money on advertising within Google & potentially other search and social platforms
  • Your website ISN’T designed/ optimized for SEO
    • When this is the case, oftentimes we recommend our clients use a landing page creation software (i.e. Unbounce)
    • This gives us optimal control over the look and feel of the landing page we’re directing paid visitors to, and we can tailor that page towards a specific type of conversion2, without having to redesign the whole website
  • You’re looking to target a specific type of traffic (i.e. by demographic, education, hobbies, etc.)
  • You thoroughly explain why you’re better than the competition on your site

And When Should I Invest In SEO?

It’s important to remember that SEO is NOT free. No matter how you look at it, SEO comes at a cost. Whether it’s your own time or hiring an outside firm to develop or manage your SEO strategy, SEO does come with a cost. Invest in SEO if:

  • You want to invest in growing traffic for the long-run
  • You have quality pages on your site that advertise all your different products and/or services (i.e. this is what we call $$ pages)
  • You want to dominate search results for your keyword(s) category
  • You want to increase the value of your website

Related Post: How Long Does It Take for SEO to Produce Results? ➢


In an ideal world, we would look at both SEO and PPC. They both have pros and cons, but work best when supporting each other. Clients & companies who can get SEO and PPC working in tandem will often be able to drive results that are greater than their individual component parts.

1 Investing in SEO may require you to also invest in redesigning your website. You can drive all the traffic to your site, but if it doesn’t do a proper job of portraying who you are, your offerings and differentiating factors it’s not going to convert those visitors

2 A phrase used to describe the act of converting a customer who browses your site to a paying customer

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Understanding Your Company’s Digital Needs: Is It UX Or Digital Marketing?

When you’re assessing your company’s digital needs, it can feel overwhelming. Nowadays digital encompasses everything from website design and development to UX (user experience), social media, marketing automation, search engine optimization, and more. For businesses that have been wary to explore the digital realm, it can be difficult to know exactly what your digital needs are in 2018 and how to address them. There are various factors that come into play here, including your marketing budget, the design of your website or app, your internal manpower and your overall company goals. In order to identify which avenues are right for your business, I would start by assessing your goals and identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your resources and objectives, you’ll want to start by addressing either digital marketing or user experience.


When You Need Digital Marketing

At the highest level, digital (or inbound) marketing helps elevate your brand authority in the marketplace. At a more granular level, digital marketing is used to increase website traffic and drive leads and sales. You bring customers to you through web traffic, instead of exclusively through outbound marketing which may consist of cold calling and other time-consuming tactics. This doesn’t mean those tactics die out, but they instead get supplemented through digital marketing that should ultimately work for you to help grow your business by generating leads and sales.

Digital marketing includes, but is not limited to:

A well-crafted digital marketing plan will often include efforts in all of these areas in order to maximize efficiency. With that being said, digital marketers prefer to work with a nicely designed website/app that isn’t restricted by technical roadblocks. And if you want your leads to convert to customers, you should have a well-designed website that’s optimized for their experience.


When You Need Design/Development/UX Services

Digital marketing is essential if you want to increase web traffic and ultimately grow your business. But if you’re attracting people to an inefficient or poorly run website, it won’t do much good. A talented development team can greatly improve the efficiency of your digital marketing efforts. At the highest level, these services help improve the user experience (UX) of your website, mobile app and digital marketing initiatives.

These services include, but are not limited to:

  • Website design and development
  • Mobile app design and development
  • Platform integrations
  • Hosting

These services are the foundation of any great digital plan. Developers want users to enjoy their experience using a website or mobile app, whereas marketers want to encourage users to engage with the brand and ultimately become a customer. In other words, instead of throwing the cart before the horse, you want your platform to work well and be functional for your users before you work on attracting customers to your site through inbound (digital) marketing. For that reason, many digital marketing agencies will recommend that you optimize your design/UX before starting anything else.


Intersection: The Gray Area

Despite their differences, there can sometimes be an intersection between digital marketing and user experience. Sometimes an SEO specialist can have development experience, whereas others may have a more robust knowledge of the latest SEO trends but very little development experience. The amount of intersection between digital marketing and UX often depends on the internal capabilities of the team you’re working with.

The intersection can include any of the following:

  • Site speed improvements
  • Analytics configuration
  • Landing page creation
  • Website/CRM management
  • Product Listing Ad (PLA Feed) modifications
  • Sitemap changes
  • Code implementation (schema, HTML, etc.)

As you can see, there are various areas in which these two services can overlap. This can be frustrating to all parties if the full extent of their capabilities are not understood. However, proper communication during the initial phases of an engagement can help alleviate these issues so you can determine what your primary digital needs are and how they will benefit your business.



How Can Parqa Help?

Digital marketing continues to evolve at a constant pace, so it helps to have a team on your side to navigate the latest changes and help you get solid results based on your unique objectives.
Parqa is a Digital Marketing Agency that specializes in SEO, SEM, Marketing Automation, Social Media and content creation. We help grow your brand and drive leads through inbound marketing.

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