Search Engine Optimization Services

About Our SEO Services

At GainTap, we only work with a handful of businesses at a time and only with those we know we can rank. We are great at ranking businesses locally on search engines and maps whether it’s a single location, multi-location or international business. If you’re a local business looking to get found on Google or an e-commerce 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. Those techniques may actually hurt your rankings. Do you want to hire someone like that? Someone who could be doing more harm than good?

SEO Consulting Services

Headshot of Graham Onak, Chicago based website optimization consultant, SEO and owner of GainTap.

“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 focusing on hand tailored SEO, content and web solutions.

Here’s my SEO philosophy on how to successfully rank websites

I believe Google is working towards 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’s become pretty clear that the businesses that rank 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 qualities of a successful business will naturally give these websites backlinks, mentions around the Internet and visits. Some SEOs focus on old-school tactics to try to trick search engines. But these 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 up here 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 but rent PO boxes in Michigan avenue skyscrapers, there’s a good chance I could bump into you if you’re local too.  I’m 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, we can perform the backlink building services, too.

On-site optimization

This is one of the biggest things you have control over and 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 at reaching people who are in the area. The advantage I have is I’m local to Chicago. I grew up in the Chicagoland area and have been here for 33 years.

Manual SEO penalty recovery services

This is everyone’s worst nightmare. You fell off the face of Google. Years ago, you had solid website visits and business was booming. But the phone has stopped ringing. Trust me, I’ve seen this. The good news is 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
  • Lack of knowledge into the best course of action for entering into a new market or niche
  • Lack of understanding for 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 the websites of your competitors to get a better understanding of why you are not competing as well as you should be. We also perform this when a startup or a new businesses is looking to enter a market and wants to know how they can compete effectively online.

For example some clients come to us to get more search traffic to their website organically. But after performing an analysis of the competition, it is clear that their budget would best be spent on advertising for immediate gains.

Others seek to launch digital products into new markets and don’t know how to price their products, whether to offer one-time fees or monthly pricing or even if they have the budget to compete in the space at all.

This is not keyword research, though that may be a part of the analysis. This report goes beyond basic keyword research for search engines. It’s a full look at the digital ecosystem you’re looking to do business in.

Online SEO Competition Analysis Deliverables

  • Better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition
  • Direction on steps to take to better compete
  • A report delivered as a PDF
  • 1 hour phone call to discuss the report

A brief note about business competition

Yes, you do have competition

A lot of businesses think that 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’s hasn’t been proven 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 to serve the market which means that there are likely customers in that market. Competition is not bad. Failing to compete is. If you are continually being beaten by your competitors online then a competition analysis will take a look at why this 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 to get out of your website and you need to understand why you’re not getting them. There are plenty of reasons for why a website may not be performing as well as you’d hope.

The first thing is conveying to us what you expect to get out of your website and how it’s under delivering. For this reason we need to have an understanding of the goals you are looking to accomplish with your site.

Questions that 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

Search engine optimization audit

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. Search engine optimization 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 like Google. This type of analysis can uncover issues with on page optimization, formatting issues, usability issues and links pointing to your site.

We do these entirely by hand: they are not automated. The results from our audit are not something a free tool online can spit out.

Website Usability audit

A usability audit gives you 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 beneficial to understanding problems you may have with high bounce rate pages, low lead to visit ratio websites and eCommerce sites with cart and checkout conversion funnel issues. Using video recording we get to see actual recordings of how a user is browsing a web page and we see what they click. We see what they miss, how far they scroll down the page and we get an idea of how to test web pages and improve results.

Content audit

A content audit looks at the text and images that you have on your website related to the types of customers that you are 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 to make in order to improve the types of customers you get, decrease bounce rates and improve conversions.

Sample Website Audits

Content Outreach & Link Building Services

We build high quality backlinks the right way.

Getting links to your content is a natural outcome of sharing on the Internet. When people like something they will link to it either through a social media share or linking in their own content. It’s human nature to share with others and we do this online by directing people to web pages using links. It’s best to think about link building as simply driving awareness for your business and offerings online.

It’s easy to get caught up in domain rank, page rank, “Google juice” and so on. But let’s think about link building like this.

Safe, effective link building services

Imagine there’s a really good organization out there that’s affordable to join and has lots of potential customers for your business interacting with each other online. Wouldn’t it be great to know about this and to join this community online so that you could get in front of these potential customers? This is an aspect of link building that’s often overlooked in favor of raw search engine optimization statistics. It’s better to be linked to from a lower domain authority site with thousands of users than a high domain authority site with none.

Powerful, quality links

Sometimes, a site really does need some powerful links. If you have lots of competition and aren’t getting traction in search, some excellent, high quality links pointing to your site can jump start your search engine traffic. We help you get the right links that actually improve your search engine rankings.

A note on bulk link building

Bulk link building can be really dangerous when done incorrectly. It’s easy to create a pattern of link building that Google can identify and squash easily. For that reason, we don’t offer bulk link building services, but we do acknowledge they can be useful under certain circumstance. We can refer you out to partners who can provide these services for you.

Quality linkbuilding by fixing broken external links and 404 errors.

You’ve heard this a million times: getting existing customers to buy is much easier than finding totally new customers. The same can be said for quality link building. If you’ve got good sites linking to you and those external links aren’t passing “link juice” then you’re leaving money on the table.

Broken external links vs. broken internal links.

A broken external link is a backlink from a website pointing to your site that is no longer functional. Typically this is because content has been moved on your website or a page URL has been changed. Sometimes you can add a redirect on your end to fix the problem. Other times, fixing these requires reaching out to the website owners and asking them to update backlinks on their end.

Broken internal links are similar but they’re easier to update because you have access to your own website. Ever seen a 404 error page? That’s a broken link. A website audit helps uncover these at which point re-directs can be used to fix them.

It’s common to have a few 404 errors on your site. But if you’ve recently completed major structural changes, you may have a problem. These changes can upset your backlink profile and cause ranking drops. This often happens for three main reasons.

link reclamation services 404 broken link fix
Example of a successful backlink reclamation. This is from an 86 DA .EDU website. Solid. Gold.

If you re-designed your website, your business could be suffering.

Anytime pages are removed, links are changed or work is done on the back-end of a website – there’s room for error. Sometimes website redesigns hurt your search rankings.

Changing your domain or merging websites.

If you’re re-branding your business or merging information from two websites into one, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

If you’re getting mentioned but not linked to.

A lot of times you’ll get press, reviews or other online mentions where people are talking about you but not linking to your website. We’ll help turn those mentions into strong SEO signals.

Link reclamation services at work. Fixed a broken external link.
Fixed a broken external backlink from an 87 DA major news publication. This site is now ranking in first page results.

Not everyone is good at the job.

To be good at this you’ve got to be able to weed out bad sites that you don’t want pointing to you and prioritize websites that you do want links from. This takes an understanding of modern link building and the use of specialized software. You’ve also got to be efficient at finding contact info on websites and be able to perform persuasive, concise email outreach.

People linking to you are highly inclined to fix their broken links.

Reclamation is the fastest way to build backlinks to your site because you already had those links at one point in time. This means if someone was linking to your website and you change domains or possibly your structure on your existing site then there’s no reason that these people wouldn’t want to link to you again. They want their audience to have a good experience by getting them the information they need. Broken links are also a bad signal to Google, so wise bloggers and webmasters will fix these as soon as possible.

The process.

When I go about fixing broken external links, I follow a pretty standard process. First I pull all backlinks going to my client’s website. I then export them and rank them in order of priority by their strategic value. I’ll craft a template and then go about reaching out to websites one by one. The most time consuming part is in the outreach, follow-up and thank you emails. After that I provide reporting showing the number of links that were fixed and estimated value of the new links.

Auditing your website.

Aside from external links, a website audit can uncover broken internal links within a website. Fixing broken internal links is critical to distributing the value of external links throughout a website. This helps more of your web pages become visible in search results. This means more traffic and sales on your website.

Interested a free audit?

I offer link reclamation services that can save you time and money. I’ll help you recover your lost potential and find opportunities to help you rank better on Google and other search engines. If you’re interested, please get in touch about reclamation services and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours with more information.

Building links through outreach

There’s been a lot of buzz concerning the importance of media and blogger outreach lately. People don’t just get information from a handful of TV and news sites anymore. The average person can run a successful niche blog with thousands of daily views. These bloggers are becoming more influential across a broad range of industries, not just fashion, music and food. And with the appeal of niche marketing, these bloggers have followings in almost any micro-community you can think of.

It all starts with a good story.

Every business has a unique story to tell. People love stories. Tell a good story and you turn on all the little emotional switches that makes your business irresistible. Your business provides solutions for people’s problems. When you’re close to something, it’s easy to have your stories left hiding in plain sight. We help you gather those stories, weave them together and share them with the right people. In addition to helping you turn your personal story into a business narrative, we help you convey the message with the authenticity it deserves.

We make sure your story gets shared, not spammed.

Our outreach and Public Relations (PR) services help get your business in front of the right people. It’s not about spamming. It’s about identifying key players online that influence your potential customers, starting relationships with them around your business and working to get your business mentioned on their website and social channels.

Frequently Asked Question about blogger outreach services (FAQ)

How much does blogger outreach cost?

Blogger outreach is often rolled in with other services such as Search Engine Optimization. Costs can vary, but typically invoices are billed as a monthly retainer rate anywhere from $750/mo – $3,000/mo depending on expectations and goals. As building relationships with bloggers can take time a 3 month retainer is suggested for optimal results.

What can you expect from reaching out to bloggers?

Pitching your products and services to the media is much like outbound selling. It’s a blend of art, science and empathy built from years of experience. Three months after beginning a blogger outreach program you should expect to grow your brand awareness measured by an increase in social media mentions and branded search traffic. You should expect new links to your website and social channels.

How to get started growing your brand awareness through blogger outreach?

Get in touch through the form below. A little explanation of what you’re seeking to accomplishment will help us put together the right package for your outreach needs.

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 performing currently and what needs to be changed. After performing 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.

Website speed

Slow websites create terrible user experiences. Fixing your 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.

Content Optimization

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 to 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 the content on their website. As search engines crawl your site, they will bounce from page to page via links. They use these links and their text to gain an understanding of how your website is structured. They can then better categorize your website and serve it to the right searcher.

Local SEO Services

Quick Nav

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 searchers location, without their input, and show them what they think are the best search results for them.

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 those 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

I like to differentiate local businesses from hyperlocal businesses when discussing 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 / metropolitan area you’re 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, driven to the suburbs and signed contracts. Our local radius is around 50 miles or so of the city. But we also have national and international clients as well. 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. Here’s how we do that.

How we rank hyperlocal and local businesses

Analysis

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 they have zero reviews on Google and their competition has 50 positive reviews, that’s a major obstacle. However, if there is literally one competitor, then we should still be able to get our client listed in the top 3 pack on search regardless of lack of reviews.

Reviews

Using the previous example, getting reviews is important. 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. However, think about a pizza place. People love pizza and they especially love good pizza. They also hate bad pizza. If you run a pizza place, it is much easier getting reviews than a therapist, which can be both positive and negative.

Local on-site optimization

Getting the 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 the site. Or it 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 still one of the top 3 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:

  • Local chamber of commerce website
  • Libraries
  • Community centers
  • Local business organizations
  • Meetup groups and events in the area
  • Other local businesses

Local advertising

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 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.

Citations

There are tons of directories that allow businesses to list their information. The importance of these has been greatly overstated in the SEO community. We’ve seen little improvement going from 35 of the top listings to 80. But if you have a lot of listings out there with old, incorrect info then fixing up these local citations can have an impact on your local rankings. If your business has moved locations, changed websites or updated your phone number, you should check these listings. Or if you’ve never set any up, you should at least tackle the core services.

Multi-location optimization

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

Again, international SEO processes are very similar to the above mentioned local search optimization. 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:

www.mywebsite.com/us/

www.mywebsite.com/germany/

www.mywebsite.com/mexico/

From there, we can register each subfolder of the site with Google Webmaster Tools and assign it a specific country level targeting. We’d also 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.