SEO Consulting and Website Optimization Services

Frequently Answered SEO Questions

My name is Graham Onak and I started GainTap to provide a better consulting experience for companies, agencies and startups. A lot of search marketing firms and people who say they’re Chicagoland SEO consultants have a big name on their door to attract clients but they give the actual work to interns and recent graduates. GainTap is different because you’re working directly with me and when you hire an SEO expert isn’t that what you want?

I show up at the meetings.

I’m the one answering the phone. I’m the one doing the research and the work. Unlike other “Chicago SEO experts” I actually live here. I can hear the “L” as I’m typing this. When we work together there won’t be any communication breakdowns or cost inflation to pay for a project manager, account manager, sales rep and three minimum wage interns. Just me and the time I commit to your projects.

When you’re looking for a good consultant, you’ve got to look past the marketing and chest puffing.

Google and other search engines use hundreds of factors to place web pages in the order that they do. You need an expert that listens to you and does what’s right for your business. Not a know-it-all, cookie cutter specialist.

My consulting approach is aimed at delivering on business objectives.

Not just getting you visits, but increasing your revenue in a sustainable, profitable way. I’ve run marketing departments for small businesses, medium sized businesses and worked as an analyst at the Tribune Company for several years. I have a broad range of experience that goes into my approach.

Cheap is never the way to go.

You can do a lot of harm very quickly by using spammy search marketing tactics. As in business, search engine optimization takes planning, monitoring, optimization and patience.

I’m looking for partners, not just clients.

I’m in this for the long haul so I want you to be happy. This means taking time to learn your business. A website audit is often the first place most companies start, but it also takes understanding how the website fits into the ecosystem with all the other websites related to yours. Most companies skip this process because honestly; they don’t care. But this is critically important as Google and other search engine companies are moving away from easily gamed tactics to more of a holistic approach for ranking websites.

A large part of optimization is related to on page content. If you’re running a WordPress, Drupal or even plain HTML website, I build these on a daily basis. I can get in there and optimize your website at the code level.

I’ll help you get your Yelp, Google + and other online directory profile setup and streamline your listings across dozens of sites. This helps with your local search presence which is becoming increasingly more important.

It goes without saying every part of my Search Engine Optimization process is 100% legitimate. I do not use spammy links or any kind of deceptive form of optimization.

Search Engine Optimization services help your business show up on Google and other search engines. If your website doesn’t appear on the first few pages of Google, Yahoo, and Bing’s search results, odds are a good chunk of your online prospects don’t even know you exist. Are you brand new to search marketing or have you hired a firm that failed to deliver? A lot of the reasons SEO fails is due to one thing: managing expectations.

Search Engine Optimization isn’t an overnight quick fix. It can take months to see results due to all the competition. If you ever get someone who guarantees you a first page ranking on Google, this is a big red flag. Just as temperamental as the weather in Chicago, it’s impossible to guarantee search engine marketing results. A tech company even made a little weather gadget showing the current SEO weather conditions.

Don’t be fooled by the many consultants who guarantee you’ll show up on the first page of Google. Google is constantly changing their algorithms to penalize spammy tactics and hiring a spammy consultant (often called Black Hat) will ensure your site gets buried and you’ll lose traffic.

Using an extremely inexpensive SEO company can kill your website.

Sometimes if something is too good to be true, it really is. A lot of SEO companies who price their SEO services super low can do extreme damage to a website. Take a look at results from this $29.99 SEO solution.

white hat seo services what bad seo looks like
This is an example of what cheap SEO can do to a website’s long term traffic. There is an initial boost in traffic (could be absolutely any traffic from anywhere) before getting a brief “tap” from Google’s penalty bot. After lack of correction in the bad SEO techniques, Google drops a “permanent” penalty on the site for uncorrected bad SEO techniques.

We only use white hat SEO techniques to build your online business. 
Working with the wrong SEO company can mean long-term problems for your website. Hacks, Google bans and useless traffic all dilute the overall potential for your website to drive revenue.

chicago seo expert results example increasing month to month
Here’s an example of what optimizing your site can do to web traffic. The blue line indicates clicks whereas the red line shows search impressions. A result of optimizing on-page content while building backlinks is more search visibility. Which means more clicks and business.

Monthly retainer pricing and fees.

Depending on your competition, building your rankings on the search engines can take time. That’s why monthly search optimization plans are the best course of action for most businesses. My monthly consulting and implementation starts at $750 a month and delivers results.


chicago seo expert local results top three pack example
A lot of times people ask “well how does your website rank?” I was able to rank in the top three local pack results within two months. That’s the top three out of 2,900,000 results for “Chicago internet marketing consulting,” in the third largest city in the US, in two months.

GainTap SEO Case Studies

Brick & Mortar SEO

A Lafayette, Indiana based salon needed help showing up on Google Maps. See how we made that happen.

See the Results

E-Commerce SEO

The largest costume store in Chicago needed help competing online in a crowded market.

See the Results

B2B Service SEO

A business consulting firm needed to increase their B2B leads after seeing a decline in search year-over year.

See the Results

We have what it takes to make your business more competitive on search engines.

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?

Here’s my SEO philosophy

I believe Google is working towards a world where search engine optimization is no longer a profession or a skill. It’s become pretty clear that the businesses that rank online have several things in common:

Some consultants focus on old-school tricks that drive short-term traffic spikes. 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 consultant, 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. Our small but growing digital marketing firm is based out of Northcenter where I’m a Northcenter Chicago Chamber of Commerce member. My contract has a 24 hour or less turnaround on replies to email, phone calls or text messages baked in. You’ll have a personal cell phone number to contact me when needed.

We build high quality backlinks the right way.

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 links is a backlink from a website pointing to your website that is no longer functional. Typically this is because content has been moved on your website or a page URL has been changed. 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. Changing the structure of your site can radically alter your structure which causes rankings to plummet.

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.

Targeting the right keywords and on-page optimization is critical.

A solid search engine marketing strategy starts with keyword research and analysis.

Getting your keywords 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 keyword optimization is still one of the most important parts to a high ranking website.

Being a keyword research expert takes a lot more than just being good at using online tools.

Getting to be a pro at keyword research takes time and patience. You can pull all the data in the world but if you don’t know how to apply it, you’ll fail hard.

I’m a keyword research expert who’s also a small business owner and marketing consultant. That means I take a holistic approach to keyword search engine ranking strategies.

Optimizing for keywords isn’t all you have to do, you have to find keywords that you have the highest chance of ranking for. This takes an experienced keyword researcher who understands what makes your customers buy and how your website fits into the competitive ecosystem.

Keyword research is really important in helping your site rank well on search engines. Using tools and software, I’ll comb through lists to find the best ones for your website, market, products and customers.

An example of performing keyword research.

There are a lot of free and paid tools out there. I run through an example of performing keyword research using a variety of tools in this video clip.

For more, view my article on the best free keyword research tools.

Local Search Engine Optimization services

Mobile phone use has exploded over the last several years. With the use of mobile phones for search comes the ability to pinpoint where searchers are located. This means search engines can now serve search results to searchers with even more accuracy. It also means your locality matters more than just loading keywords into your web pages.

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 32 years.

Get more reviews on social networks.

Spread the word about your business on social networks that are important to your business. Strong content on social media is a strong indicator for local rankings.

Find local communities and build relationships

Identify online communities that matter to your business. Our research services will locate potential customers for your business.

Optimize your Yelp, Facebook and other local listings.

New office? Opened more locations? We’ll make sure you local business listings are perfect so customers, and search engines, can find you easily.

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 linkbuilding practices which invoke Google’s wrath. There are specific steps to recovery that need to be performed by an expert.

Identify your bad links

You need to sort out your bad links from your good links. A lot of times, this isn’t easy. But we’ve done this and had manual action penalties removed.

Request removal of link equity

After sorting out your bad links, we’ll submit them directly to Google. After a few weeks, Google should stop taking bad links into account.

Request reconsideration of your website into Google’s index

After getting the links discredited, we’ll ask Google to reconsider your website. With a little elbow grease and luck, they’ll lift the manual action penalty against your site. But that’s not the end of it.

Diversify and strengthen your backlink profile

You were likely ranking higher than normal because of poor backlinks. After Google penalized your site, you dropped because those links no longer applied. But you dropped an additional amount because you were “caught cheating.” By removing the penalty, you’ve recovered slightly, but the important next step is building high quality links. This means press mentions, quality directory listings and generating content that people want to share. We help with all that and more.