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How to use SEO effectively to boost your business? with Lori Gama

An Interview with Lori Gama

Welcome to E-Coffee with Experts, an interview series where we discuss online marketing with the best minds in the business.

In this episode, Dawood is in conversation with Lori Gama, President at DaGama Digital Marketing Agency.

Lori shares her thoughts on SEO, schemas, lead generation, and content creation to attract more and more traffic to the website. She also shares her insights on the importance of Google My Business and how one can optimize it.

Lori speaks about repurposing content, the growing importance of voice search, and how one must optimize it. She also shares ways to plan, structure, and promote blogs and the ways to create an editorial calendar.

Lastly, she shares the biggest SEO challenge faced by her in her career and how she overcame it.

Tune into this insightful conversation and stay tuned for the next cup of E -coffee with Experts!

Reviews are important, so respond to reviews. Make sure you have a process in place to get your best reviews.

Lori Gama
President at DaGama Digital Marketing Agency
SEO & Lead Generation
Hello, everyone. It's another episode of E-coffee with Experts. I'm really excited to be doing this every week with a new expert. We are getting a good response from our viewers. I'm also gaining a lot of knowledge while talking to the experts every week. So, today we have with us, Lori Gama. Let me introduce Lori to the viewers before we dive into the questions. I am really excited to have her. She is president of the DaGama Digital Marketing Agency based in Colorado. She works with clients across the US. Founded in 1995, Lori built her business from local to national clients in just a few years. She became Colorado's first female top SEO expert, beginning way back in 1998 when Google was just born. That's when Lori predicted that Google would become the Yellow page of the 21st century. In 2008, she predicted that social media would become one of the top ways we will do business with each other because social networks were to become an easier, faster, and more affordable way to get to know each other. She is the Co-owner of Skynet Drone Services with her husband, Colorado's first certified drone pilot, Michael Gabriel. Skynet Drone Services is Northern Colorado's first female-owned drone services company. Lori is active in her local community and volunteers as a broad member with the United Way of Weld County. Well, Laurie, so excited to have a talented marketer like you with us. After a long time, I am interviewing a female marketer.

Thank you. I’m really excited to be here and very honored. Thank you for inviting me.

Well, the pleasure is all mine. Like I introduced you, you have done it all. You have been doing SEO for so long. I love asking about SEO, and we will be focusing on SEO. But, I would also like to understand, when you are creating the marketing strategy, it's not only SEO; you mix SEO with paid. So, when you're planning a marketing strategy, how do you plan a budget across various platforms?

That’s a great question. It depends on the client’s industry and if they have the budget to invest in Google ads. It does take a small amount of money, depending on their industry, to pay Google to be at the top of the page, especially. I definitely role in search engine optimization, and I go for the long game. It doesn’t take as long as it used to with ranking in Google. It depends on the client’s budget. If they want to go after a fast, immediate click-through rate into their website and get those leads really quickly, definitely role in the Google Ad budget.

What factors do you look at when you are gazing at cross-channel performance?

It all goes back to the client’s demographics first. The strategy that we come up with, where the clients and customers are going for the solution to their problem. Does our client have the solution to their problem? More people search on Google when they have a problem. That’s their intent to find the answer there.

But, because many people spend a lot of time on social media, especially Facebook. In America, they’re spending two hours a day there. Maybe not two hours, but it’s a lot of time. They’re hanging out there to see what’s going on with their family and friends. So, why not expose our clients’ brand to them? It’s much like the old-fashioned newspaper ad used to be, where week after week you would see that same advertiser and when you finally need them, you would think of them. I like to utilize Google and search engine optimization as the strategy for my clients.

Right. What does your SEO process look like?

It’s very holistic. I mean, it’s not just backlinks. It’s not just doing keyword research and writing good content. It’s not just concentrating on Google My Business profile or anyone or two or three things. It’s all the above and a lot more. I believe in never putting all your eggs into one basket when it comes to SEO, especially and don’t put all your eggs into the Google basket for your marketing strategy. So, I take a very holistic approach.

Right. Google is moving towards predictive search results. How do you optimize for that?

It’s sort of like, Google is your dance partner, and they introduced a new dance. So, you learn the steps, and you go with them. Then you’re like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. That was a silly comparison. If they are making that a way that people are falling into their search neck, so to speak, and you’re talking about, when people start to type in a keyword phrase, like, “Why is the sky blue? Or why is the price of lumber high?” Those answers are appearing as you start to type “Why is”. It’s a great strategy to roll into your overall SEO strategy. If Google is showing you that people are searching for these questions or the answers to those questions, then why not take advantage of that.

Absolutely. On-site content and blogs are so important. How do you plan, structure, and promote your blog for traffic? What are best practices for creating an editorial calendar?

I love using WordPress, of course. WordPress started out as a content management system. Google loves WordPress because WordPress is so structured. It’s really great to use that as part of your SEO strategy. As far as getting traffic to your blog posts, you do research, keyword research, and manual research in Google and Bing. You don’t want to ignore Bing. See what topics, what websites are appearing in the top search results for the topics you’re interested in writing about. You can get ideas; that’s where you want to be. You can take a look at how long those blog posts are that those search results are ranking for. There’s a number of things you can look at.

As far as the editorial calendar, just have a system and a process in place. There are lots of tools available. You could do a Google search for an online editorial calendar tool. I’m looking into monday.com. That could be a tool. Evernote can be a tool. A spreadsheet in Google Drive can be a tool as long as you have an organized process, especially if you have a team. If you’re a solopreneur, even using a wall in your office with sticky notes, that’s at least a system, right? But if you have a team, have something online and in the cloud that everybody can access. Then, of course, it starts with your strategy first before we get to all that.

Absolutely. There are so many amazing scheduling tools as well to help you plan your content. Lori, talking about local businesses, and you work with local businesses, what are the key elements you look at while optimizing the Google My Business Page?

The Google My Business profile has become so important as part of your SEO strategy, especially if your customers are local or even regional. First, claim your Google My Business profile if you haven’t already. Then make sure your name, address, phone number is correct and consistent in local directories. There’s even an acronym for that- NAP (Name Address Phone Number). It’s so important. Google cross-checks the name, address, phone number you put in your Google My Business profile with all these other local directories, including Yelp, Yellow Pages, and all kinds of local directories.

Make sure you take advantage of every tool in the Google My Business profile. Fill in your photos in all the categories. They even recently added services and products that you can fill in. You don’t necessarily have to put prices for your services if you’re like an agency. There are so many things. In the description, make sure that it’s keyword-rich, but of course, readable.

There are also categories. Don’t put too many categories for your business. If you put too many, Google looks at that as like you’re trying to spam them. Then do Google posts frequently. All of this adds up to send signals to Google that you’re active. You want yourself to be present as the credible, trustworthy business that you are. That’s why they started doing Google My Business profiles in the first place.

Absolutely. I think reviews are also important. They kind of help refresh content on Google. It helps to build that trust with Google, which ultimately helps your rankings as well.

Yes, the reviews are important, and then replying to the reviews. Be sure you have a process in place to get your five-star reviews. Of course, that starts with your service—the quality of your customer service and the things you’re doing for your customers. Then just have that process in place to ask for that review and build those up. If your competitors are not doing that, that’s a huge advantage you could have because people do read those reviews or look at the average rating. I’ve gotten clients that found me because they just looked at the overall five-star rating that we have. They didn’t even bother reading any reviews. So that’s quite important.

How do you leverage schema markup for local SEO?

So schema markup is very important. You’ve got to leverage it. You’ve got to use it. It’s another advantage that you can have over your competitors. That’s some technical code that is put into your code. It basically gives context. It tells Google that this web page, this particular page is about this particular subject. It takes any confusion out of the picture. That came about with the Hummingbird algorithm. Make sure that you have it in place. Most people probably watching this could not do that themselves. So talk to your SEO specialist about it and make sure that you have schema markup.

Right. Talking about link building, how have you seen link building change over the years?

It has changed. It used to be, like, you could basically do the old-fashioned way, find outside relevant websites that have free places, you could put your link, or you could put your comment into a blog and have it linked back to your website. But now, you have to take a more strategic approach. I love what Brian Dean does. He’s a huge SEO expert. He basically writes long pieces of content that are very useful. Then he sends that out to his list of 1000s of subscribers. Many of them quite naturally link back to that as a very important piece of content. That’s how you could do it as well yourself.

But most of all, it takes a lot of time to build up that amount of readership. So use your blog to focus on a keyword with each blog post to write. There is a certain way to structure it so that Google is more likely to rank it. Look into that as well.

Talking about writing content on pages, the best way I feel is to look at the top 10 competing pages. At the end of the day, your pages have to be better than them in terms of content. You can always look at what are the main topics they're talking about? What is the average word count? Looking at these simple things really helps in planning the content of a particular page. Also, a lot of people only focus on do-follow links. They don't give no-follow so much importance. In your opinion, how do you look at the ratio between follow and no-follow links?

I don’t look at the ratio. We just let it happen naturally, and I think that’s the best approach. I think if you try to force a certain ratio, I bet maybe Google will catch on to that, and you don’t want Google not liking you. Then there’s another approach, like, do you allow your category pages and your tags to be indexed into Google? Some SEO specialists do, some don’t. Why not let them rank because it’s just another piece of content that’s ranking in Google that people could find you and explore that link and go to other pages in your site?

Right. I think a lot of e-commerce stores, where people are actually selling a franchise product. They are the people who kind of worry about it. Like, "how do I have unique content?" But still, not allowing the page to index, you're right. I mean, you know. It should be the other way around where you let the page rank. Use your signals to Google accordingly in such cases. Also, talking about press releases, what are your thoughts on using press releases for SEO?

Press releases used to be a great way to get an easy backlink back in the day. But Google caught on to that. It realized that people were using it that way. Google put a stop to that. I mean, put a stop to it in the sense that it’s not as valuable as it used to be. You can still leverage it with your overall marketing strategy, SEO strategy.

Don’t put a press release out there just to try to get that page indexed into Google. Just do it when you have a good reason to do it. It’s another way people can find you. It adds to your overall authority and uses in that regard. The days of getting an easy backlink with it are quite overwhelming.

Right. Is it okay to buy lots of domains and do a three-zero redirect to your main one?

I wouldn’t buy lots of domains and do that. If you’ve got a domain for your business that perhaps a competitor could buy a similar-sounding one, I would definitely buy similar sounding domains. So that your competitors won’t own them. But, I would not buy several. It’s not worth the cost, especially even if you’re only paying a few dollars per year for each one. It’s just not important enough of a ranking factor at all to bother with.

Right. Talking about repurposing or refreshing old content versus creating an entirely new one, what are your thoughts on that?

That’s low-hanging fruit. So by now, lots of people have older content, myself included; I should be doing this myself. So you can go back to your older pieces of content and refresh them. Bring them up to date and be transparent. At the top, say that “this blog post was originally published in 2009. We’ve updated it for the latest information in 2021.” Go ahead and update it. Put correct and up-to-date information, and then republish it. Basically, you’re just re-saving it. And again, Google’s going to see that’s a refreshed piece of content, and then your readers are going to appreciate that as well.

Right. We did a test back in the day. We converted written blog pieces that were already into short videos using stock footage like quick videos and then embedded those videos on the same pages. It actually showed some quick results. Ultimately, we had to turn it into service as well. It was a very small test of a simple repurposing of written content, but it definitely worked.

That’s a great strategy, even for YouTube videos. Since Google owns YouTube, it loves it when it comes across the YouTube video embedded into your website. So that’s a great strategy.

What is the biggest challenge you have come across during your SEO career?

That’s a great question. There have been a few. When we get the occasional online reputation client comes to us, and we help that person try to push down that negative search result, that’s challenging, but we’ve been successful. Thankfully, less than 1% of people go beyond page one. So, that strategy works. One big thing we did was we took over a newspaper website. They had never used search engine optimization at all. They solely relied on Google ads, and they finally realized they needed to do both. So, my team and I got to work on that. It took some time because it was so massive, so many pages. Relatively quickly, it started ranking because it’s a newspaper website. If you knew anything about SEO and newspaper websites, they’re just super high authority. It was relatively easy to get its ranking. But it was just such a big job. I was really proud of my team that we were able to do it. We just concentrated a lot of hours and days on it and got it ranking pretty quickly.

Well, amazing. That's a very nice success story. What are your thoughts on optimizing for voice search?

You definitely want to optimize for that because more and more people are using voice assistants in their homes. They’ve got it on their phone. Everybody is getting Apple watches and talking to Siri on their Apple Watch. So what you want to do there is develop content that answers questions. That’s how people talk to their voice assistant. When you’ve got content that actually is an answer to that question versus a big long explanation, Siri or Google is more likely to return your answer as the top search result. Siri can actually say the answer to the person in search versus here’s what I found. Who wants to read on a tiny little Apple Watch screen? So, voice search is very important.

As an agency, what are your best sources of lead-gen?

Referrals and Google, of course. I’ve got to walk my talk. We do get a lot of leads from Google people finding us with different keywords and then referrals. It’s super important to build relationships with people. Plus, it’s fun. I’ve made so many new friends along the way. If you don’t have power partners and a network in place, as a business owner with most industries, you’re gonna get a lot farther and faster.

Right. Well, the last question before you go. Any valuable tips that you can give our audience, and they can implement and gain benefits from?

If you have local customers that you want to reach, leverage Google My Business profile. Really work on it. Make it your best friend, but also do the basics. I recently gained a new client. I did research before I met with them and discovered that their webmaster and the web developer that had developed their website had left a very bad thing in place in the code. It basically was the no-follow no-index piece of code in there, and you don’t want that. They were telling Google and other search engines, “Don’t follow us, Don’t do anything.”, which made them invisible for several months. They didn’t even know that was there until I told them. So cross your T’s dot your I’s and do the very basic things. Check the basic things and make sure that Google can at least find you that you’re not creating that type of a barrier.

Right. Lori, thank you so much for joining us today. It was really fun having you.

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