Should I hire a SEO consultant? – Search Engine Marketing in Maryland, DC, and Virginia

A common question that I get from many clients is should they invest in a SEO consultant?  In most cases, I encourage folks to save their money and focus on the standard SEO best practices.  But, if a client does not have the time, or a staff, then by all means hire someone to help out.  However, do NOT believe the hype.  There are very few magic bullets or tricks that will get you a legitimate high ranking that will not eventually get crushed by Google if the find you “cheating”.  Focus on White Hat SEO, focus on content, focus on your customers, and if you follow those rules, you will typically be rewarded by the search gods.

Don’t fall for paid link programs, make sure you understand what your SEO firm is doing, and check up on them.  Many practices that SEO firms will advocate will eventually cause problems due to Google eventually catching your cheating.  If you are a SEO SPAMer, it is no big deal, just change your domain, and start again.  However, if you are a reputable company, you are putting your Internet Reputation on the line.  If the SEO pitch is too good to be true, don’t believe it.  If you want to see how even big companies can get crushed, read about how JC Penny seriously harmed their Internet Reputation by not closely watching what their SEO consultant was doing.

Did you know that over 20% of all search queries are now being generated by mobile devices?  And, in many of these cases, the search results are heavily influenced by the customer’s location.  No matter what business you are in, it is even more important that your business is visible, and preferably at the top.  And in areas like the Maryland, DC, Virginia region, optimizing your site to reflect where customers could be searching from is important.   You can’t just provide your business address and hope customers can guess what areas you may service.  Make it clear where your service areas are.

And, while talking about your address, a couple of tips are in order.  First, make your address and phone number easy to read, and to copy and paste.  Do not embed your address in a graphic.  Yes, I have seen this, and if I had known the designer that did it I would have fired them.   Interestingly, the address for this company was Thomas Johnson Drive in Frederick, Maryland.  I tried to copy and paste, but no luck.  Guess how I typed it into Google?  That is right, Thomas JEFFERSON!  Mobile search fail…

If you are still interested in finding some help with your SEO projects, drop us an email.  We would be happy to help you find the proper resource.

Dinner at VOLT: Order the Beets!

brian voltaggio volt restaurant

So I’ve been suggesting to husband to make reservations at VOLT restaurant in Frederick for a while now – hoping we could get in before one of the Voltaggio brothers wins Top Chef this season — brother Bryan is chef at VOLT (http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/season-6/bios) (http://www.voltrestaurant.com/). Brunch was booked up, so husband kindly made dinner reservations for Sunday.

We arrived a bit early and sat in the open bar/lounge area of the ‘mansion’ to await our table… Gary wasn’t convinced an entire Sam Adams fit into his fancy glass, though the barman insisted it did… We were seated in the main dining room (in addition there’s the noisy kitchen-view tasting dining room and a glassed-in Chef’s Table) with white linens and coppery brown ceiling – elegant and populated with nearly as many servers and sommelier-types as diners.

We selected three of the four courses from the four course menu including, starting with the beet salad which was the tasiest dish of the night: as Gary put it, 75 cents worth of beets for $12, but they looked very pretty on the huge plate, swirled with tasty oil, a cheese mousse, and tiny green ‘weeds’ and tasted lovely.

Next up was goat cheese ravioli in brown butter — nutty flavor but Gary said too oily. Teeny-tiny scallops (seriously, as big as a dime) atop some sort of nutty grain were overpowered by the grain, and it was hard to tell the flavors of the white, orange and green ‘smears’ of sauces on that plate.

We both selected fish as main plates, with Gary’s striped bass a winner featuring crispy skin and a deep earthy flavor. My slightly rare halibut was a disappointment in comparison. The accompanying hot, puffy dinner rolls in various flavors (from sea salt to bacon) were lovely – we should’ve ordered more!

For dessert I ordered the banana split dish – a ‘deconstruction’ similar to something Bryan made in restaurant wars. It was interesting, but unsatisfying-with nut powders beneath teaspoon size samples of chocolate and vanilla ice creams and a strawberry sorbet that would’ve been great as its own serving in a cone or normal size bowl. There was a strange tofu-like-textured banana ‘mousse’ winding across the plate and a ‘spherical’ maraschino ball that burst when I tried to spoon it up. Gary fared a bit better with his peanut butter and chocolate combination, decorated with organic chocolate and some micro-green cilantro and cilantro powder(!) If was amusing to look around the dining room and watch the other diners eating their tiny servings with great care and precision of fork, most leaning forward and examining the food items thoughtfully while taking itty-bitty bites.

The yummiest dessert came as a complement of the pastry chef, a dish of miniature ice cream sandwiches on various cookies. And the check was delivered hidden beneath two tulle-wrapped citrus/pumpkin muffins, ‘in case you’re still hungry, you can eat them on the way home’ is what the waiter actually said. If you have to hide the check under muffins so folks don’t get upset at the cost while their bellies are still empty, that sums it all up…

It was a pleasant dining experience, and was interesting to taste and see some of the flavors and styles of food that we’ve been seeing on Top Chef, though we both agree that the restaurant across the street — Acacia — offers more flavorful and more satisfying food for Frederick visitors.

Good luck Bryan Voltaggio – we’re still rooting for you!