Could Google Fiber push Austin, TX past Silicon Valley in terms of technology?

Google finally made their highly-anticipated announcement today about their next stop on the Google Fiber tour, and that’s right, you guessed it, it’s Austin, Texas. Google made their official statement just hours ago, revealing that Austin will be the second recipient of their super-fast 1 gigabit Internet and TV service “Google Fiber.” So how fast is this 1-gigabit service? Faster than most of us can probably even imagine, at about 150 times the speed of your average broadband Internet access speeds in this country. Not only will the 1-gigabit Internet service be available, but Google Fiber also offers a 1-terabyte Google drive space, TV service and a DVR that can record up to 8 shows at once!

Not only are the Internet speeds faster than we can begin to imagine, but they’re also offering a free version of 5Mbps download, 1Mbps upload speed with an initial $300 setup fee, for a guaranteed 7 years of service. While the free version’s speed may not get the tech nerds excited, this is a great feature for Austinites who are living without Internet access, or may still be using dial-up.

While Google’s goodwill and fantastic prices may be making headlines, as an established Austin SEO Company we can’t help but wonder what Google Fiber will mean for Austin’s already prosperous technology industry. Kansas City, Google’s first city chosen for Google Fiber has grown an amazing technology industry, thanks in part to Google Fiber. The Wall Street Journal even listed Kansas City as an “Information Hub” in 2010, saying:

“In 2009 the number of tech companies rose by 5% to 2,900, trumping the growth rates of well-known hubs like Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin, Texas.”

Austin already tops most top 5 charts as one of the most innovative cities in the U.S., so will Google Fiber take them to the top? Austin, Texas, also referred to as Silicone Hills, has been hot on Silicone Valley’s heels in the past few years. In 2010, Forbes listed Austin as the one of most innovative cities in the United States with about 2,900 patented inventions, the second most per-capita. Austin can also thank the University of Texas’ School of Engineering, which ranks ninth on the U.S. News World and Report list of best engineering schools and produces over 1,000 undergraduates per year, many of whom stay to work and live in the innovative city. According to the director of the school’s career center, employers actually come to Austin because “they can get quality and quantity.”

Google Fiber is just one more reason for job-seekers, job creators, and the nation’s bright and innovative to move to Austin, Texas. Google Fiber will continue to build on Austin’s momentum and will help make things possible that we haven’t even dreamed up yet!

Author: Allison Schnur is the Senior Project Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about SEO, SEM, or social media please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

How Social Media Has Forever Changed the Way We Do Business

Social Media has only been around for a short 10 years, but has already drastically changed the way we advertise and operate online. Facebook became one of the first social media vehicles to give companies, big and small, a chance to connect and interact with their target market. Social media has helped turn advertising from a one-way marketing vehicle to an actual dialogue between customer and corporation.

Now that the consumers have a voice in the media, companies are learning quickly that one wrong step can lead to a less than savory public outcry. While consumers have historically learned to stand up to corporations when they feel there is a perceived injustice, it’s becoming easier with the help of social media. Both Bank of America and Verizon learned that lesson when they made extreme changes to their policies that negatively affected their customers.

That’s when one 23-year old tweeter became a hero of the people, when she refused to accept Bank of America’s proposed $5 monthly fee on its debit-card accounts and she wasn’t alone in her distaste for the idea. She drew in over 300,000 signatures last October opposing the change after blogging about changes.

While some may think deeming these small victories as successful “twitter uprisings,” they’re missing the point of how social media is playing into our day-to-day lives and our ability to communicate our concerns with large corporations with a simple 140-character tweet. Could you imagine if those 300,000 petitioners had instead switched banks after the $5 monthly fee was imposed? Bank of America would have to devote tens of thousands of marketing dollars just to reacquire their lost and dissatisfied customers. What’s more important is to note the number of customers that would have been permanently turned off by the company, those that couldn’t be bought back with even the most desirable introduction rates and marketing tactics.

While some companies may fear the shift of power from corporation to consumer, the smart businesses are learning to take advantage of these social media vehicles to connect with their consumers. “Friending” and following your consumers is a great way to get to know their thoughts and feelings, not only on a demographic base, but for their qualitative feedback that they so readily provide. These are the kinds of comments and reviews that companies pay to gather in focus groups and consumer interviews. The companies on the forefront of social media are learning to appreciate their consumer feedback. They are utilizing social media to keep their customers happy and gage how they should be operating their business. Combining an active social media campaign with an already intensive search engine optimization austin campaign is one of the best ways to not only keep your business on the top of the search engines, but to keep your customers as satisfied as possible.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

What’s the Difference Between Link Building and Link Buying?

Search Engine Optimization is one of the best ways to market your company and website online. While companies are now realizing the importance of links in regards to SEO, they have no clue what the difference between link building and link buying is. Knowing the difference and making sure your SEO Company is doing everything ethically can mean the difference between a top ranked site and a site that’s banned from Google, or at least severely punished.

Buying links is a highly risky practice, since Google frowns upon buying and selling links, and won’t hesitate to penalize companies that do. So what is link buying? And how can you tell if your SEO Company is involved in this practice? Link buying is when websites will buy or rent links to another website. You pay a fee to be featured on a website, usually a spam-filled or irrelevant one, and the link will contain a keyword that increases your page rank. Link buying became popular as search engine optimization became more competitive in the early 2000’s, and buying links became a faster and cheaper alternative to link building.

Link building is the act of creating credible anchor text links with your company’s desired keywords. Common link building practices including blogging, creating links in niche directories, posting on forums, and social networking sites. With link building, you are creating valuable and relevant link bait such as blogs and posts for your followers that link back to your company’s website. Link building, unlike link buying, is a more tedious, manual process that takes much longer and requires much more consideration and expertise.

Then why go the hard way? Because it’s the right way. Google considers link buying to be against their terms of service, since it creates an unfair and unregulated search engine. Google is driven to produce the most relevant search results for its users, and buying links is a way to cheat your way to the top. Luckily, Google cracks down on link buying, and can and will penalize sites that are engaging in the illegal SEO tactic. They are even making examples out of some of the bigger companies that have allegedly been involved in link buying.

So how do you know that your SEO Company is doing everything by the books? Typically, link buying is a much cheaper practice, so if you’ve been approached by SEO Companies willing to get you ranked for a small fee, you should be extremely cautious. An honest SEO Austin Company will gladly show you how their time is being spent and can account for each service they are charging you for. Link building reports aren’t always included because let’s face it, some things need to be kept “trade secret.” The proof is in the pudding. If you are moving up on the search engines, you can bet that your SEO company is doing the work, including link building, ethically and within a major search engine’s terms of service.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.What’s the Difference Between Link Building and Link Buying?

Reputation Management and Search Engine Optimization

Every successful company understands the importance of reputation. People buy based on an expectation of quality and service. If your reputation takes a hit, you can bet that your sales will feel the pain. Unfortunately, for some companies, their reputation can be damaged through slanderous or untrue statements, and rebuilding their image can take months or even years.

While reputation management is not a new concept for companies, many companies are realizing that the internet has made their clean-up efforts more difficult. One negative incident among years of dedicated service can nearly take a company down, especially in a rough economy, where competitors are watching your every move. For this reason, many SEO companies can help you clean up your online reputation, by highlighting your years of quality service and reviews.

Strike While you’re Hot – It’s important to get started as soon as your online reputation has taken a hit, because you will undoubtedly be releasing your own press releases regarding the negative accusations. Embedding links in these press releases will help highlight your response to the negative incident, and how your company plans on handling it. Most consumers are forgiving with a company’s mistake, as long as they take responsibility for the damage and move forward to correct it.

Keyword selection is key – Selecting the right keywords is the most important factor in repairing an online reputation. Even if your company is using a reputable search engine optimization company and highlighting select keywords, you will need to readjust your strategy. Since the negative press is most likely popping up when consumers search your company or brand name, those are the keywords that you need to focus on. Your SEO Company’s goal will be to continue driving brand-friendly hits up, while pushing the negative press down.

Build Up and Push Down – Link building is extremely important to clear up your reputation, since your negative press has already pushed itself to the top of your company’s results. Your SEO Company should be continuing with the positive SEO, while minimizing the negative. It’s important that your website and blog are being constantly updated, especially if you are in the works of correcting any harm. Another great way your search engine optimization company can build links is to go to the source of the negative press and ask them to include updates of your press release and the steps your company will be taking to remedy the situation.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

Twitter: Become A Leader With Help From an SEO Firm

Twitter is one of the most unique and interesting social media platforms we’ve seen so far. For many older, more traditional companies, Twitter is just not a concept they can wrap their head around; there are pictures, profiles, hashtags and conversations that look like a completely foreign language. Many companies would much rather discredit the social media giant than recognize its true marketing power. Those companies are making it much easier for their competition to capture and connect with their shared audience.

After the initial culture shock has worn off, many companies are able to see the marketing and branding potential that Twitter offers. The social media site is basically offering you your target market on a silver platter! Not to mention a place ideal for branding, link building, and content sharing. Companies often miss the mark because they think their target market doesn’t use Twitter. Even if your target market is not on Twitter, the major search engines look at your social signals and you should include social media within an SEO strategy. You do not need to make a sale or gain a new client/customer from Twitter. That won’t always be the end goal for every business that uses Twitter. In this case, your goal should be to use Twitter as a means of branding the company and using the social media platform as a way to share information, tips, statistics, news, etc. from your industry.

One of the biggest problems companies have with Twitter is finding followers, since tweeting with no followers is like airing a TV commercial to an empty room. So how do you go from Twitter rookie to Twitter leader in a matter of months? One of the best ways to boost your online presence is to hire a social media and SEO expert. While this may sound costly, you will find that companies can offer many different options to fit your budget. There are quite a few reasons to consider hiring a company to manage your social media accounts:

They don’t call them “experts” for nothing – Think of your favorite baseball player; do they throw a ball better than you? Of course, it’s their job! Just like anything else in life, an expert knows the ins and outs of their field much more than an amateur. They also devote their time to continued learning and staying on top of the latest trends. While you can invest your time and energy learning these tricks, it will be less efficient and your other work could suffer. The truth is that if you are running your business, you will not have the time that a social media or SEO professional has.

Best use of company money – Many companies are always looking to pinch a penny. While this is generally a safe way to keep their budgets in line, many companies don’t realize they’re spending their money incorrectly. Using a salaried employee who excels in their current position to work on social media for one to five hours a week makes no financial sense. It can be especially harmful to your budget when they are still learning the ropes or a bit rusty, since they are much less efficient than someone you can use for less. When you retain a qualified SEO company who offers social media as a part of the strategy, you get an entire team of “social media addicted” professionals working on your behalf.

Division between work and play – If you or your company’s designated social media worker are familiar with these platforms, it’s hard to know when to work and when to play. You’re already spending money on social media, by using an employee’s company time to keep up. It’s even worse when you’re tempting them with a fun social outlet, when their time could be spent elsewhere. While we do agree that having a designated person from within the company to address direct messages or @replys with specific questions/comments/concerns is vital, the day to day social media updating and building of social authority should be left to the search engine optimization company to manage. A qualified firm will not only manage your Twitter account, they should also be on the watch for direct messages and @replys that need to be forwarded for the designated company employee to address.

ArteWorks SEO is a full service Austin SEO company who has been active in the search engine optimization business since 1995. For more information or to contact us regarding our services, please visit www.arteworks.biz.

Why Add Social Media to your SEO Campaign?

Search Engine Optimization, like many technology-based industries, is a constantly growing and changing field. SEO has finally become well-known enough that, while most businesses don’t understand the inner workings, they do recognize its importance. One key branch of effective SEO is a well-managed social media campaign.

Social media is no longer the entry-level branding tool that it once was. As social media companies grow and evolve, they are realizing exactly how important it is to connect both B2B and B2C companies with potential clients and customers. Many platforms have created special pages and functions specifically for businesses only.

Not only does social media work on its own, but it’s becoming more integrated with search engine optimization every day. Search engine ranking algorithms are now including social data and “social signals” as criteria. These search engines use social links to determine relevance, so every time a link is Liked, Re-Tweeted or +1ed it will help improve its ranking. Of course, this is just one small factor in search engine ranking, but one that definitely should not be ignored.

Many companies will get as far as creating the page and adding a few friends, not realizing that they’re missing out on a free advertising and relationship building platform. Many companies that try managing their own campaigns will often start out strong, and then abandon the responsibility after a few short months.

Many other “do-it-yourselfers” don’t understand the importance of a fully integrated SEO campaign and will attempt slowly bouncing from one tactic to the next. Some companies only have a set amount of time to devote to their online marketing campaign, and will therefore commit maybe one week to social media, the next to e-mail marketing and the last to PPC management. While some online presence is better than none, an effective campaign needs all branches; blogging, link building, social media, etc. to be working together to really maximize your exposure and page rank.

So how, exactly, can your social media campaign compliment your current online marketing strategy? Observe your competition. If they are reaching out to their audience through weekly contests, trivia questions and prizes, you may want to do the same. Make sure your SEO Company is posting regularly and consistently, so you don’t lose followers. Lastly, always stay branded. This is another mistake many companies make by not hiring an Austin SEO company; they think any social media interaction is better than none, so they allow multiple employees to manage their campaign. Varying tones and information can confuse your audience, so keep your company’s brand clear.

ArteWorks SEO is a full service Austin SEO company who has been active in the search engine optimization business since 1995. For more information or to contact us regarding our services, please visit www.arteworks.biz.

Will Twitter and Friends’ Class Action Lawsuit have any Affect on the Future of Social Media?

Social Media Applications have become one of the greatest ways to advertise and interact with your customers. These platforms have virtually changed the face of the way we market our companies. While social networks emerged to connect individuals to each other, in recent years, they’ve become more geared towards companies who want to interact with their customers on a weekly or even daily basis.

Since becoming one of the fastest and most inexpensive ways to market to customers, these sites have taken full advantage of their newly available demographics and market data. Some of these sites, however, could be walking a fine line between market data and user privacy, allowing apps to connect the users’ personal information. Twitter and 17 other companies have recently been sued by 13 people in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas for invasion of privacy.

The claim that’s been made by these 13 individuals, mostly from Austin, Texas, is that these companies applications have uploaded and stored their users’ smartphone address books for the up to 18 months without their users permission.

The 17 other companies in question include Path, Twitter, Apple, Facebook, Beluga, Yelp, Burbn, Instagram, Foursquare Labs, Gowalla (no longer in business), Foodspotting, Hipster, LinkedIn, Rovio Mobile, ZeptoLab, Chillingo, Electronics Arts, and Kik Interactive.

While only 13 individuals are currently involved in the class action case, the lawsuit claims that billions of contacts could have potentially been taken without permission or notification:

“The surreptitious data uploads–occurring over both cellular networks and open, public wireless access nodes in homes, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, stores, and businesses all across the nation–have, quite literally, turned the address book owners’ wireless mobile devices into mobile radio beacons broadcasting and publicly exposing the unsuspecting device owner’s address book data to the world.”

While many companies have yet to release a statement, Hani Durzy of LinkedIn has publicly stated that their applications do no such thing.

So what kind of affect will these practices have on the social media industry? It seems that most users accept that their demographics, personal information and sometimes even their location can be monitored by their applications and networks. In 2011, social media giant and leader of the industry issued what seemed like a public apology for the privacy violations and has seemingly been quickly forgiven by its loyal users. A search engine optimization company understands the value of social media, and can help explain how your company can benefit from a mix of SEO and social media techniques.

Matt Foster is the CEO of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Internet marketing firm, who has been active in the SEO industry since 1995. Mr. Foster can be found on Twitter @ArteWorks_SEO. ArteWorks SEO can be found at www.arteworks.biz.

Why Use an SEO Company?

Search Engine Optimization is not always as easy as it seems. In order to achieve a lasting result and to optimize your website ranking, you must devote hours of work each week over an extended period of time. Not only is the actual SEO process tedious and time-consuming, but you must conduct sufficient research in your current ranking, as well as your competitors’.

Many times, you may have the knowledge to do your own SEO, but you end up devoting much of your time to the process and slow your productivity on your own company’s work. If you’re considering undertaking the SEO responsibilities for your company yourself, you may want to consider these factors:

Time-Consuming – Like we said, SEO can take anywhere from 10 to 40 hours a week, and if your company is small, that basically boils down to one job devoted to SEO only. Hiring an SEO company requires little supervision, and many SEO companies have become fully-integrated and can offer you social media services, as well as website development and design. Hiring an SEO firm instead of paying someone in house to do a full time job, you have the luxury of an entire team of professionals working towards your rankings. Hiring a firm can be more cost effective than hiring a full time employee requiring a salary and benefits to work on your SEO campaign.

Scams – Unfortunately, like most things on the internet, if something seems too good to be true, it may just be. If you plan on teaching yourself or an assistant how to do your own SEO, you may find different sites that promise you certain results for one small payment. Always keep in mind that a real SEO company cannot guarantee rankings, as it’s a complex analytical system, and requires time to build. There are different sites with many approaches to SEO and you have to be sure not to engage in black hat activities that will leave you unranked and penalized by Google. You can not learn enough to be fully aware of the proper techniques in one day or from a day training seminar from an “SEO Guru.” You must understand the history of how to rank, what the search engines look at when ranking one’s sites, quality link building, how to write optimized content and the like.

Lack of Consistency – Optimizing your site takes consistent weekly, or even daily effort. What would happen if your office had a busy week? A busy month? It’s very easy to put SEO off when it’s not your source of income, and you can lose ranking quickly if you are in a competitive market. An SEO company can work daily; weekly or even monthly based on your budget, and can work much more efficiently. Let the firm you hire do what they do best, and you stick to being the best in your field as we help your business to grow and succeed.

Get a Boost – Even working with an Austin SEO Company for six months can help boost your rankings. SEO is a constantly changing business, so what worked for you a year ago may not work today. Try testing out an SEO company for four to six months, and allow them to help your website get a boost on the search engines. Being number one on a major search engine can certainly help boost your business as the number one position is likely to garner most search volume for a particular keyword.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.

How Does SEO Work?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become an intrinsic component to online marketing. How do you expect to market your product or service, when your website is buried like a needle in the haystack of the top search engines? Many people are just now understanding the importance of SEO, and that websites don’t just magically appear at the top of the results page.

So what is exactly is SEO? Search Engine Optimization is just that; it’s an optimization of the domain itself and your search engine placement, not just by your company’s name, but by the services or products you may offer. In other words, if someone types in your company’s name and you’re first to appear, your site may still not be optimized. The fact of the matter is that if someone knows your business’ name in the first place, you are not gaining new customers. SEO helps promote your business by being searchable by keyword. If someone is looking for a dry cleaner in the Manhattan area, your site can be one of the first results found.

SEO can be complicated if you don’t know how to do it properly and it is time-consuming and requires the right techniques. Sometimes inexperienced businesses can spend hours on the wrong techniques, and are not fully optimizing their time and effort. A small business owner can do their own SEO, but since the industry is constantly changing, most businesses find that hiring an SEO company is a better use of their time and money.

Here are a few important SEO components:

Keywords – Keywords are the terms or phrases that you would expect someone to use while searching for a product or service that you offer. That New York Cleaner would want to pick phrases like “Manhattan Dry Cleaning” “Dry Cleaner Manhattan” and so forth. For local businesses, SEO can work somewhat quicker, since the keywords for local search tend to be less competitive than a general search term. Larger, more national or international brands will have higher competition with their keywords. Choosing the right keywords will make or break your campaign. Optimize for keywords that have high search volume and that are relevant to your products or services. Don’t let a snake oil firm fool you into guaranteeing a #1 position for keyword that has little to no competition and only 15 searches per month!

Consistency – SEO is a constant process. You can’t just sign up for a directory or build some links and be done. The most effective SEO is performed a few times a week, at the least, and acquires building up the authority of one’s domain. SEO companies are great for this reason because they can focus on your domain consistently. If you are trying to run your business and do SEO on your own, you will not be able to dedicate the time and effort that an SEO firm will on your behalf. Do what you do best and let your Internet marketing firm do what they are known for.

Timeframe – SEO does take time. Some of your competitors may have started much earlier than you, and have links built up for months or even years. Don’t let this discourage you! Like we mentioned before, SEO requires consistency, and many times your competitors have stopped using SEO services thinking they outranked all of their competition. While it isn’t possible to guarantee a ranking with SEO, it’s much better to be on the first page of results than the tenth, so the sooner you get started, the faster your website will start showing up.

It’s important to realize that not all SEO companies are the same. For more information on search engine optimization techniques and Austin SEO companies, visit us at ArteWorks SEO.

About the Author: Allison Schnur is the Marketing Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service Austin SEO firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about our top rated search engine optimization company please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.