Graham told me that we shouldn’t expect to see any significant results for at least four to six months; but he also told me that once my website was cleaned up and we put the proper foundation in place, we could expect to see steady improvement in traffic quality and quantity. Since we first started working together, we have seen a substantial improvement in both the quality and quantity of our website leads.
It actually took longer than six months before we really began to see a sustained increase in traffic, but since then the progress has been dramatic. We now receive three to four times as many qualified leads as we did a year ago and our revenues are not far behind.
About Our SEO Services
GainTap is a digital marketing company in Chicago that provides search engine optimization services and consulting to small businesses. We are Google Partner certified and provide Adwords PPC management services as well.
At GainTap, we work with only a handful of businesses at a time, and only businesses that we know we can rank. We are great at ranking businesses locally on search engines and maps, whether the business has a single location, multiple locations or it’s an international business. If you’re a local business looking to get found on Google, or an ecommerce site that wants to sell more products online, we can help.
A lot of experts think they know everything, and they don’t read up on the latest trends in online marketing. Well, the things that ranked websites 10 years ago don’t work anymore. In fact, those techniques may hurt your rankings. Do you want to hire someone like that? Someone who could be doing more harm than good?
SEO Consulting Services
“I only work directly with a handful of clients at a time, and only with those I know I can help rank on Google and other search engines.”
Graham Onak, SEO / Owner of GainTap
I’m Graham Onak, a Chicago-based SEO. I learned a long time ago that it takes more than backlinks and keywords to rank a website. Google and other search engines are moving to a more – pardon the pun – “organic” way of looking at website relevancy when matching search queries. That’s why I started GainTap, a small digital shop focused on hand-tailored SEO, content and web solutions.
Here’s My SEO Philosophy on How to Successfully Rank Websites
I believe Google is working toward a world where search engine optimization is no longer a profession or a skill. Now, we’re likely 10 years out from this reality, but it has become pretty clear that businesses that rank well online have several things in common.
Here’s What High-Ranking Business Websites Have in Common:
- They have great reviews from customers
- They have a natural presence on the Internet, from press stories to charity sponsorships
- They have websites with useful content that get updated frequently
- They focus on long-term growth and success
These characteristics naturally provide websites with backlinks, mentions around the Internet and visits. Some SEOs focus on old-school tactics to try to trick search engines, but those efforts never bring the consistent, quality visits that lead to new customers. When you hire me as your SEO consultant, I’ll use a holistic strategy that’s tailored for driving new customers to your company who have the intention of purchasing from you. Isn’t that what you want out of a marketing program? More customers?
When I say I’m a Chicago SEO, I mean I actually live here.
If being local to Chicago is important to you, don’t worry; I live right at the border of Lakeview, Ravenswood and Northcenter. I’m so close to Wrigley Field I could hear Billy Joel sound check when he played a sold out show over the summer.
Unlike some of my competitors who live out of state and rent PO boxes in Michigan Avenue skyscrapers, there’s a good chance I could bump into you if you’re local, too. I’m also a Northcenter Chicago Chamber of Commerce member.
Types of Website Optimization Issues I Can Assist With
Link Profile Consultation
The quality of the links pointing to your website are extremely important to your overall rankings. I help you understand your current link profile and what you need to do to improve it. This requires a thorough website SEO audit. If you don’t have the resources internally to implement the improvements, we also can perform the backlink building services.
This is one of the biggest things you have control over and it includes some of the top-ranking factors. Let us optimize your site for search engines.
Local Search Engine Optimization Services
If you’re looking to get Chicagoland customers, you need a local search engine optimization program focused on reaching people in your area. The advantage I have is that I’m local to Chicago. I grew up in the Chicagoland area and have been here for 33 years.
Manual SEO Penalty Recovery Services
You fell off the face of Google due to penalties. This is everyone’s worst nightmare. Years ago, you had solid website visits and business was booming. But now, the phone has stopped ringing. Trust me, I’ve seen this. The good news is that there are things you can do, but you need to act fast. Google penalties are usually a result of poor link building practices which invoke Google’s wrath. There are specific steps to recovery that need to be performed by an expert.
Competitive Analysis & Online Research
Our online search engine market research is great for solving the following problems:
- Not knowing why your competitors are beating you online
- Not knowing the best course of action for entering into a niche or new market
- Not understanding why your customers shop with you or do not shop with you online
Online SEO Competition Analysis / Market Entry Analysis
Our online competition analysis looks at your competitors’ websites to get a better understanding of why you’re not competing as well as you should be, and to identify what you can do to be more competitive. Some clients come to us to get more search traffic to their website organically, but after performing an analysis of the competition it’s clear that their budget would be best spent on advertising for immediate gains, for example.
We also perform an analysis when a new business or startup is looking to enter a market and wants to know how they can compete effectively online. This is helpful for clients seeking to launch digital products into new markets but don’t know how to price their products – whether they should do one-time fees or monthly pricing – or are not sure if they have the budget to compete in the space at all.
A competition analysis is not keyword research, though that may be a part of it. This report goes beyond basic keyword research for search engines. It’s a full review of the digital ecosystem you’re looking to do business in.
Online SEO Competition Analysis Deliverables:
- A better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses compared with the competition
- Direction on steps to take to better compete
- A report delivered as a PDF
- A one-hour phone call to discuss the report
A Brief Note About Business Competition
Yes, you do have competition.
A lot of businesses think they have absolutely no competition. This is just wrong in most cases. If you truly have no competition, chances are you’re offering something that hasn’t proven itself in the market with a successful revenue model. Having competitors is a natural part of doing business. If you have competition, it means other people are willing to invest in businesses that serve that market, which means there are likely also customers in that market. Competition is not bad; failing to compete is. If you are continually being beaten by your competitors online, a competition analysis will provide insight into why that is happening.
Technical SEO Website Audits
We find and correct issues with your website so it can generate traffic, leads and sales.
Website audits are useful when you aren’t seeing the results you would expect from your website and you need to understand why you’re not getting them. There are plenty of reasons why your website may not be performing as well as you’d like.
The first thing is conveying to us what you expect to get out of your website and how it’s falling short. For this reason, we need to have an understanding of the goals you are looking to accomplish with your site.
Questions a Website Audit Will Answer
- Why aren’t we getting visits to our site?
- Why are we getting less visits to our site?
- Did our website redesign hurt our site?
- Why aren’t we getting leads?
- Why are we getting bad leads?
Website Audits We Perform
These are very common, and we do a good deal of these on a regular basis. If you’ve been in business for at least a year, you’ve likely been bombarded with SEO companies asking to do an SEO audit for you. SEO audits take a look at your website to see how it’s optimized for search engines. We identify problems that may be reducing your ranking potential and decreasing traffic that comes from search engines, such as Google. This type of analysis can uncover issues with on-page optimization, formatting, usability and links pointing to your site.
We do these entirely by hand; they are not automated. The results from our audits are not something a free tool online can spit out.
Website Usability Audits
A usability audit gives you a greater understanding of how visitors are interacting with your site. Through heat maps and video recordings of web pages, we show you what’s working and what isn’t. These audits are extremely helpful in explaining problems you may have with high bounce-rate pages, a low lead-to-visit ratio and cart and checkout conversion funnels on your ecommerce site. Using video recordings, we get to see actual footage of how a user is browsing a web page. We see what they click; we see what they miss; we see how far they scroll down the page, and we get an idea of how to test web pages and improve results.
A content audit looks at the text and images that you have on your website and how they relate to the types of customers you’re trying to acquire. Some websites do not have a solid content strategy in place, and they may be targeting the wrong types of customers with the content they have on their site. Content audits will uncover issues with your actual web page text and images and suggest changes aimed at improving the types of customers you get, decreasing bounce rates and improving conversions.
Sample Website Audits
Onsite Optimization Services
We improve the relevance of your web pages for search engines and your audience. This starts with an audit of your website to get an understanding of how your content is currently performing and what needs to be changed. After completing an audit, we’ll have a better idea of what areas of your web pages need to be optimized.
We focus on three areas while optimizing websites:
Slow websites create terrible user experiences. Fixing page load time issues can allow your pages to rank higher and keep visitors on your website longer. We migrate websites to faster servers, implement content delivery networks (CDNs) and reduce scripts, image sizes and external calls.
Getting your keywords and relevance right is critical to better rankings on Google and other search engines. There’s been a lot of change over the years with how Google ranks websites, but content optimization is still one of the most important parts of creating a high-ranking website. You need to provide the right answer to a specific search query. It’s about making sure your content is useful and shows up when people need it.
Interlinking Your Web Content
A lot of websites fail to rank because they don’t interlink their own content. As search engines crawl your site, they will bounce from page to page via links. They use those links and the links’ text to gain an understanding of how your website is structured. Search engines can then better categorize your website and serve it to the right searcher.
Local SEO Services
The Importance of Local SEO for Local Businesses
Local SEO focuses on taking advantage of your key strength: your location. You may be competing with national or global brands, but your biggest strength on search engines is your address and phone number. With the rise of mobile phones, search engines have been able to pinpoint a searcher’s location – without their input – and show them what they think are the best search results.
When you’re looking for Chinese food, you probably type into your phone “Chinese food” or “Chinese food near me;” you likely don’t search “Chicago Chinese food restaurants” anymore. That’s because search engines are so good about knowing where you are by pinging your GPS or WiFi connection location, you no longer need to add the city pre-qualifier.
What we do is help local businesses show up when a user searches something as simple as “Chinese food.” If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you have the ability to outrank your bigger competitors simply from optimizing your local search presence. For some businesses, this is more important than others.
Local SEO vs. Hyperlocal SEO
We find it helpful to differentiate between local businesses and hyperlocal businesses when looking at the relevance of local search optimization. A local business is one that does business in a wider radius than one that is hyperlocal. The hyperlocal business is absolutely dependent on doing business with customers in a small radius, often less than 10 miles, whereas the local business has a wider radius, often 25+ miles. This will largely vary based on how unique your offering is and the size of the city or metropolitan area your business is located in.
For example, our company, GainTap, is a local business. We have a good number of local, Chicago-based clients. We want to rank high in Chicago because a lot of people prefer to work with local consultants and firms; they can meet them in person, take calls in the same time zone, do lunch meetings, etc. We’ve met clients an hour or so away from Chicago, and have driven to the suburbs and signed contracts. Our local radius is around 50 miles or so around the city. But we also have national and international clients. We’re a digital marketing firm – we can work with anyone, anywhere. It’s preferred that we rank locally, but it’s not required for our success. This is a huge point of difference when it comes to local optimization.
Now let’s look at a hyperlocal storefront business. Think about a dentist: unless they have some kind of monetization going on with their website where they’re kicking out affiliate links to toothbrushes on Amazon (yes, this does happen), they are doing 100% of their business within a few miles of their location. If they’re in a crowded city, they will have a ton of competition around them; their customers won’t have to travel more than a few blocks before they see another dentist. To these hyperlocal businesses, they absolutely need to improve their ranking signals within a small distance of their location. We help businesses do that.
How We Rank Hyperlocal and Local Businesses
First off, an analysis of the existing site and local competition must be done. This is what gives us an understanding of what’s lacking and how we can best get our client’s business on the map. For example, if our client has zero reviews on Google and their competition has 50 positive reviews, that’s a major obstacle. However, if there literally is one competitor, then we should still be able to get our client listed in the top-three pack on search regardless of the lack of reviews.
Continuing with the previous example, getting reviews is important, but some businesses are naturally less inclined to get reviews. For example, most people won’t go online and give their therapist a rating because it is a deeply personal service. This is likely going to be an industry-wide problem, so competitors won’t be at an advantage here. A pizza place, on the other hand, is totally different. People love pizza, and they especially love good pizza. They also hate bad pizza. If you run a pizza place, it is much easier to get reviews than a therapist, which can be both positive and negative.
Local Onsite Optimization
Getting a business’s site tweaked to rank locally is extremely important; it’s one of the major SEO factors that a business owner has direct control over. This can be as easy as adding the business’s location information, local business schema markup and local phone number to its site. It also can be as complex as building out neighborhood or city pages for areas the business would like to rank in.
Local Link Building
Getting backlinks to your site is one of the top three ranking factors out of hundreds. When it comes to links, quality beats quantity. However, local businesses will benefit even more by having local quality links. A few examples of quality local links would be:
- The local chamber of commerce website
- Libraries’ websites
- Community centers’ websites
- Local business organizations’ websites
- Meetup groups’ websites and websites for events in the area
- Other local businesses’ websites
This is an overlooked part of search optimization. Many business owners are specifically looking to avoid paying for advertising by optimizing their site. There is a false belief that search engine traffic is “free.” But when you hire a company like us to optimize your site, you’re paying for it. If you have particularly intense competition, paid search optimization can often give you better, faster results than organic search optimization. We like to use Facebook advertising to hit a targeted, local group of potential customers. This can boost traffic, increase awareness of the local business and send great local search signals to search engines.
There are tons of directories that allow businesses to list their information. The importance of these has been greatly overstated in the SEO community; businesses that list their information in the top 80 directories do only slightly better than businesses that list their information in only the top 35 directories. But if you have a lot of listings out there with old, incorrect info, fixing up these local citations can have an impact on your local rankings. If your business has moved locations, changed websites or updated its phone number, you should check these listings. Or if you’ve never set any up, you should at least tackle the core services.
The process above can be repeated for multiple locations. We see this with some clients who are specifically looking for a multi-location SEO firm. In truth, it’s the same process, scaled out across multiple storefront locations.
International / Global Optimization
International SEO processes are very similar to the above mentioned local search optimization processes, but there are some important additional steps required to rank pages internationally.
This is key: you need to make sure your site is broken out by country. There are different ways of doing this, but we prefer using the subfolder route:
From there, we can register each subfolder of the site with Google Webmaster Tools and assign it specific country-level targeting. We also can add language and schema targeting in the code for each set of subfolder pages, which gives search engines even greater understanding of the proper country-level targeting.
Interested in SEO Services?
Get in touch with us to discuss SEO services for your business.