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The Difference Between SEO and SEM 

Did you know that there are over 1.9 billion active websites on the internet? With the online landscape becoming increasingly competitive, having a website has become a necessity, especially for businesses.

If you own an online business, you're probably wondering how to effectively promote and achieve success in this vast digital realm.

This is where the significance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) comes into play. But what sets these two strategies apart, and which one is right for your business?

Let's delve into the crucial differences between SEO and SEM, and how both can significantly boost your business.

What You Need To Know About SEO

No matter whether you have a web design business, a law business, or sell products, SEO will always be your friend when marketing your products or services. If you don't know anything about the internet, the first thing you should know is SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization.

What does this mean exactly? It has everything to do with search engines like Google and how those search engines find and rank online content. For example, suppose you type in "red lipstick" into Google. As soon as you do that, millions of search results will appear before your eyes.

The most popular results will rank on the first page and they will also get the most views. They end up on the first page because those websites use SEO practices to the best of their ability. Then, there are millions of other search results that appear on the second, third, and even 21st pages of Google.

Of course, most people would never go to such a faraway page. In fact, few people even bother to ever click on the second page of Google. After all, the first page already has all the information that a person would be looking for.

But how can you get your content to the first page of Google anyway? It all has to do with how SEO works. Marketing businesses online has everything to do with what kind of SEO practices you use.

The first thing you should know is that using good keywords is essential. A keyword is only a single word or string of words that is used to help Google (and other search engines) rank and sort your content. For example, "red lipstick" is a very popular keyword.

Using Keywords

When you type this in, many search results of different websites will appear either providing information about red lipstick or trying to sell a product. Whatever the case, a keyword is what will make it easier for both search engines and real people to find your content.

Obviously, if you have an online business trying to sell red lipstick and you don't use the keyword "red lipstick," it will be hard for anyone to find your content. It is important to use the right kind of keywords as well. Keywords that are too short, vague, or popular won't be very effective.

This is because too many search results pop up when you type them in and if you use such a keyword, your content will only end up buried in the long list of search results. Ideally, you should choose a more specific or niche keyword. This will allow you to target a more specific audience and it will make it less likely for your content to be swallowed up by thousands or millions of other competitors.

Long-tail keywords are good for this purpose. They are keywords that involve three or more words. The sheer length of such a keyword will make it more niche which is what you want most of the time. Besides the power of keywords, you should know that SEO, in general, is a very powerful tool that you can use completely for free.

The Benefits of SEO

How can SEO be free if it is so powerful? This is because there are many ways you can enhance a website’s SEO on your own. As long as you know what words to use, what links to use, and so on, you can use SEO to your advantage and you won't have to pay a dime.

This is not to mention that SEO is an amazing long-term solution to bringing more traffic to your site. However, the main downside is that it can take some time for people to start trickling into your site. After several months, the power of SEO will start to take hold and you will notice an increase in the number of viewers your website will get and where you rank on search results.

From that point on, your views will only start to compound on an exponential scale. SEO and social media also have a close connection since social media also uses keywords and can help bring more views to your site. But how does SEM compare to the power of SEO?

What You Need To Know About SEM

Many people often confuse SEM with SEO since they tend to go hand-in-hand. Sometimes, SEM is even grouped in with SEO. However, these two things are very different.

SEM stands for search engine marketing. This type of marketing is unique because it is a form of paid advertising. Many people believe that SEM is one of the best possible ways you can grow an online business.

In reality, both SEO and SEM are ideal for growing an online business and you can benefit from using them both at once. However, the main difference is that SEM is not really a long-term solution but instead a solution for the short term, unlike SEO. This is due to the fact that you will have to spend money to advertise.

But even so, you can bring quite a lot of traffic to your website with this kind of advertising, even in a short period of time. This is because paid advertising has a wide reach and can attract internet users from all walks of life and direct them to one place: your website. Another benefit of SEM is that you get fast results, unlike SEO.

With SEO, you usually have to wait months and months before you finally see a significant uptick in your website's traffic. This is simply the way SEO works. However, SEM has a much more proactive attitude and can bring hundreds or even thousands of visitors to your site almost instantly.

This is the simple power of paid advertising. Of course, the main downside of SEM is that you have to pay for it. This is unlike SEO which you can do completely for free for as long as you want.

The Pros and Cons of SEM

When you use SEM, you can either decide to do a small marketing campaign or a massive one (as well as everything in between).

Of course, when you opt for a small advertising campaign, you won't have to pay as much but you'll only get a relatively small influx of traffic. If you pay a lot more money for a much larger campaign, you can get an influx of tens of thousands of people to your website, if not more.

The effectiveness of SEM really depends on how much money you're willing to spend. Big companies can afford to spend thousands of dollars on advertising alone while small businesses might only be able to spend a few hundred dollars, if that. However, even if you can't spend a lot of money on advertising doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it at all.

Even spending just a few dollars and advertising can have surprisingly influential results. Advertisements have the ability to reach all different corners of the internet and as long as those advertisements are enticing enough, they should attract plenty of people to your site. And, in regard to the amount of money you might need to spend on SEM, keep in mind that SEM is only a short-term boost.

You'll only need to pay for this kind of advertising for a short time to see significant results.

SEO or SEM: Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Business

When it comes to SEO vs. SEM, you should know that one is not better than the other. Rather, they are both very good types of marketing to use if you want to bring more traffic to your online business. SEO is free and takes a longer period of time to work, but it is the perfect long-term solution.

SEM is short-term paid advertising that is great for quickly bringing more people to your site. To learn more, contact us here.

7 Signs You Need a New Website for Your Business

The first and oldest web domain on the internet is, founded in 1985. And even they updated their look and feel to keep up with modern search and user trends.

Web design might sometimes seem like an unnecessary expense for some small business owners. In fact, it's quite the opposite. User habits and Google search algorithms change regularly. You're missing out on valuable traffic (and potential customers) if you're not consistently modernizing your website.

But how do you know when it's time to upgrade—or build your first site? Below, we highlight 7 signs or reasons a small business needs a new website.

Read on to see if they apply to you!

1. You Still Don't Have a Website

Shockingly, a large number of small businesses in America don't have a website at all.

It might be okay if your business is an independent gas station in a high-traffic area, but it poses a significant problem for anyone else. You're missing out on many potential leads if you don't have a website.

Thankfully, this is a problem that you can resolve quickly. There's never been a better time to access affordable website design. Today, websites are reasonable to host, affordable and quick to design, and easy to maintain—so long as you work with a savvy provider.

2. Your Current Website is Ugly or Outdated

The adage goes: Never judge a book by its cover. Well, that doesn't work so well when it comes to your online presence.

The main goal of your website is to attract and engage visitors, encouraging them to interact with your website the way the entity hosting the website needs them to. This might be to buy a product (an e-commerce business), request a service quotation (a plumber or roofer), or make an appointment (a doctor's office). However, one study found that close to 40% of visitors will discontinue their time on a website if they think it's, well, ugly.

So, if your website looks like it's from 2013 instead of 2023, it's time to invest in a website redesign—ASAP!

3. Your Website Is Not Mobile Friendly

You're probably glued to your smartphone. After all, the average user spends over 3 hours A DAY scrolling socials, websites, emails, podcasts, and more on their phone.

Well, it's not a wild assertion to suggest your customers are doing the same thing. And you need to make sure your company website works great on a desktop and adapts to the smaller screens people now use.

And that's because nearly 60% of web traffic comes from a mobile device—a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Thankfully, most website builders today use responsive design technology, making it easy to adapt to this new reality.

4. You're Not Getting the Results You Expect From Your Site

You've nailed that all-important first impression. Your website looks great on mobile. Yet, you're still not attracting those all-important leads—at least, not as many as you'd hoped.

If your conversions are low, it could be because your website design isn't optimized to aid your customer's journey through your sales funnel. They might find you, but once they're on your site, they're getting lost in where to go or what to do next.

A redesign with a focus on clear calls-to-action can help you achieve your conversion goals.

5. Business Is Slow, and Sales Are Stagnating

You've had a legitimate business for a long time, and once, your website served you well. People could find you, and they'd contact you via phone or the contact form on your website to enquire about your services.

Today, those people just aren't coming. So what's going on?

Your aging website is likely not optimized for inbound marketing. You must ensure it includes places where you can provide your visitors with educational and helpful information that addresses their pain points and helps them trust your expertise.

6. You Have a High Bounce Rate

Google Analytics defines a bounce rate as the percentage of people who visit a single page on your website. This essentially means the analytics program is counting the number of people who only stay on the website they first click through to—say, from the Google search results page—and then click away from your website immediately or a short time later.

A high bounce rate is considered anywhere between 56% to 70% (or above). You can read this as your website not having enough relevant content to keep visitors interested and exploring.

To remedy this, you need to upgrade your website, so it offers people somewhere to go next at all stages of their experience.

7. Your Website Isn't Secure

If your website fails on security, it will get downvoted in Google searches. And this means no one will find you. Also, if visitors perceive your website as unsafe, they're unlikely to trust you.

Modern websites need an SSL certificate at a minimum. This is a fundamental trust signal for visitors and Google. However, some small businesses may need to consider upgrading to something even more encrypted, especially if they collect personal client data.

We Build Small Business Websites That Work

If you think you need a new website, trust your gut. If it's telling you "yes," you probably needed to invest yesterday. If even one of the points above resonates with you, it's time to invest in an upgrade.

Perhaps your customers complain they can't find what they need on your website. Maybe you're worried clients aren't finding you online at all! Can you navigate properly or upload new content onto your website?

Contact our agency to discuss your new website today. We specialize in affordable web solutions and small business websites that are effective, optimized, and secure.
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Freedom Social & Web Designs Explain the Value of Reputation Management

The true value of reputation management can not be overstated. Protecting your online brand has become increasingly important in this digital age.

Statistics demonstrate that an online business with a strong online reputation has almost 60% more chance of succeed than a business without one. With the ever growing presence of social media platforms, customers now have greater access to information about businesses. This means they are able to make informed decisions when it comes to purchasing goods or services. It also means that businesses must take extra precautions to protect their reputations and ensure that customer reviews and experiences are positive.

Reputation management is the process of actively monitoring, managing, and improving the online presence of a brand. This includes responding quickly to customer feedback and complaints, monitoring online reviews, building relationships with customers and fostering overall trustworthiness. By doing these things, businesses are able to gain customer loyalty, attract new customers and increase sales.

Recent studies have found that potential customers trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations. With this in mind, it's clear that having a robust reputation management strategy in place is essential for any business. It is the key to creating a positive, reliable and trustworthy brand image in the eyes of potential customers.

Reputation management is no longer something you can afford to procrastinate on. In today’s digital age, protecting your online reputation is vital for success. Don't wait until it's too late—take steps to actively manage your online reputation today!
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Freedom Social's Blog

Women’s sports marketing boom ‘huge up and coming opportunity,’ spurs new agency services

More than three million people tuned into Coco Gauff’s U.S. Open last week, making her victory the most-viewed women’s major tennis final ever on ESPN. It points to the surging popularity and viewership of women’s sports. And where viewer’s eyeballs go, advertisers follow.

As women’s sports continue to gain traction, brands are more willing to shell out marketing and ad dollars to reach those viewers. Looking to capitalize on that momentum, Rain the Growth Agency, a Portland-based ad agency, created a dedicated internal team to focus on women’s sports in June. 

The eight-person team, called HypeHer, offers strategy and research, media buying and planning, media partnerships, social media and influencer marketing, creative as well as analytics and measurement.

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Creators still turning down work as the Hollywood SAG-AFTRA strike continues

While creators continue to stand in solidarity with the ongoing Hollywood SAG-AFTRA strike, they haven’t actually seen an uptick in business. But the longer it continues, the harder it will be to turn a blind eye, creators told Digiday.

The strike

Seventy days and counting. The actors’ union, Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which represents about 160,000 professionals, started its strike action on July 14, over a dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios. The issue at play is about fair compensation for actors; to ensure they’re being properly paid (in line with inflation), they get updates to their pension and health contribution caps, as well as compensation for TV reruns and films on streaming services.

People negotiating on SAG-AFTRA’s behalf are demanding that the actors’ get financial compensation, partly based on viewership levels. But the studios, which include Netflix, Disney and Amazon, aren’t wanting to be transparent with that information. A further concern has erupted around AI, for example, who owns the rights if an actor’s voice or visual image is reproduced by AI.

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Agencies move on from creating content for specific platforms to focus on short-form video

The latest pivot toward video is in full swing, and unlike previous occasions, agencies must now master the art of short-form video rather than focusing solely on specific platforms.

That’s not to say that it’s no longer important for agencies to have platform expertise — it is. Each app has its own unique voice, trends and cultures. 

However, given the constraints of tighter budgets and limited resources, agencies can’t afford to favor one platform’s video content over another. They must adopt a more strategic approach, creating content that caters to the diverse demands of their clients across multiple platforms. And what’s interesting is that the common thread among most platforms these days is the short-form video format, thanks to TikTok. Notably, YouTube, Meta, Snapchat and others have followed suit with their own versions: Shorts, Reels, and, of course, Spotlight.

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Why Apartment Therapy added more commerce integrations to its tentpole event franchise Small/Cool 

Event sponsorships are hard to come by this year, at least according to Apartment Therapy’s president Riva Syrop. But the money is there if publishers know what sponsors are looking for. And in the case of this year’s Small/Cool event franchise, Syrop said clients want bottom-of-the-funnel, transaction-oriented campaigns.

When planning for the 2024 iteration of Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool event franchise, Syrop said she and her team realized that the typical spring timing wasn’t going to be conducive for reaching their sponsorship revenue goals, nor their consumer revenue targets. Last November, Syrop said on the Digiday Podcast there were concerns about forcing sponsors to commit to large-scale sponsorship deals before their 2023 budgets were fully fleshed out. 

So the decision was made to push Small/Cool to October this year. And just a few weeks out from the kick-off of the three-weekend-long event, Syrop said on stage this week at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Key Biscayne, Florida, that the delay paid off. 

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