August 16, 2018No Comments

What is SEO and Why Do I Need It?

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a complex series processes on the front and back ends of your website - along with marketing and content creation - that help your website be discovered by search engines.

Search

Do we really need to explain this? Everybody uses search engines to find information on the internet - price comparisons, articles, how-to's and more. When you enter a search term, or query, the search engine uses an ever-adapting and complicated algorithm to return what they think are the most appropriate and useful results.

This is different than browsing a news site or scrolling through social media looking for information. Users are actively looking for a specific answer, which you should keep in mind when creating effective content.

Engine

The search “engines” that people use to find information are essential because they return prioritized results for users. They first use crawlers (spiders) to explore the web, then they record everything they find in databases (or indexes). When you perform a search, the engine is actually returning results from its index rather than the live internet.

The important thing to remember is that all these engines use specific criteria for returning results. They look at factors like keyword density and meta tags to understand what your pages are about. Also, they keep track of which pages have linked to your content, and they use that information (along with other factors) to determine what page has the most authority.

Optimization

In order for users to find you via search, you need to show up on the first few results pages (usually the first) for their search terms. That’s why you need to optimize your content for the search engines. This doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require some attention.

If you want to rank highly in search engines, you need to make sure:
• The search engines can find you
• They know what each web page is about
• They feel your page/site has authority and credibility for the content you’re publishing

How Does SEO Work?

Ultimately, SEO is about coding your information for search engines and making it accessible or discoverable by their crawlers. Their goal is to provide the most resourceful information to visitors when they need it. In order to do that, we have to understand SEO, changes in search algorithms, publishing and how it all works conjunction with each other.

Why Does My Business Need SEO?

Many businesses believe that SEO strategies do not apply to them. Either they see it as too complicated, or they think their brick-and-mortar or small business won't see any tangible benefit from search engines. Both are untrue. SEO helps your business in many ways and is an essential tool in your marketing and outreach efforts.

Everyone Uses Search Engines

Even if a customer is frequents your business and knows your name, they are more likely to search for you rather than remember your domain. At the very least, then, you’ll want to make sure searchers can find your site when they’re looking for you.

SEO Increases Traffic

If you provide valuable information and make it easy for search engines to find and organize it, they will reward you with higher rankings. This increased exposure means more visitors to your pages.

As with most marketing, you want to get your content in front of as many eyeballs as you can. Especially when your audience wants what you have, and SEO is a great tool for targeting.

SEO Brings You Qualified Leads

Since search engines return results to users who are actively searching for a particular term or phrase, getting to the top of that stack means you’re providing information to the people who want it most, when they want it.

Unlike advertising, you aren’t trying to push information in front of people who might not be interested at the time. So, you have an active audience, and you don’t have to pay to get the message to them.

Overall, search engine optimization is one of the most effective and sustainable ways to build your online presence. Rather than seeing it as something to “fix” after you’ve created content, keep SEO top of mind from the beginning.

By following best practices at the start, you’ll create interesting, useful content that potential customers want (or need) to read. Then, the search engines will be happy to put you in front of a larger audience.

July 13, 2018No Comments

Why Can’t Google Find My Business?

Why Can't Google Find My Business?

According to a recent Forbes article on small businesses, research demonstrates that smaller businesses, by and large, are not maximizing the benefit of their Internet presence. This may be surprising to hear, and even disappointing to some, but it should be pointed out that those taking advantage of it, are really experiencing significant gains.

So, why can't Google find your business? Why aren't you showing up in searches? Rust Creative's SEO Division will explain how to get discovered on search engines.

1 . Your Website is Not Optimized for Crawling

Search engine optimization isn’t just about meeting searchers’ needs. Your first priority should be optimizing your website for search engine crawling so that search engines can index it and serve it up to searchers. If you don’t have keywords in these places on your webpages, Google will have a hard time indexing you, and users with finding you. (This is not a comprehensive list. It is however a good starting point.)

  • Title Tags: This is the title of your pages or post, and the first piece of information Google collects to “read” it.
  • Meta Content: This is the brief snippet that appears on search engine results pages and further describes your page or post to search engines. Your meta content will include your title tag, your description, and schema data for indexing. There is even more schema data you should consider including if you review products on a blog, write news articles, or sell products. Each piece of meta content is relevant to the purpose of your website and should not be ignored.
  • URL: The URL is the unique address for each page or post. These should have trailing URLS that are user-friendly to remember. If any of your web urls end in ".html" or ".php" you will experience issues.
  • Alt Tags: Alt tags create a text alternative of photos that Google can read them
  • Add Google Analytics to your site
  • Submit your .xml sitemap for indexing
  • Sign up for Google Console

2. You Need to Work with Localized Search

When people search for products and services, they commonly type in [industry, product, service] + [their city or town]. If your website does not make your business’s location known to search engines, you’re likely to be buried down the search rankings. It will also throw your website into the larger industry bucket, rather than your local area, making it even harder to rank.

3. Your Website is Not Mobile-friendly and Slow Loading

Your website is needs to be responsive or mobile-friendly. Google loves to provide websites to users that are easy to use and meet their needs. If your website crashes, loads slowly, or functions poorly on mobile devices, Google will want to hide it to protect its users from a poor experience. A good web design company or SEO agency will test your design across all popular browsers, making adjustments accordingly.

4. Your Website is Not User-friendly

Having a working website is not enough (and purely subjective). Users need to be able to move around on it easily and intuitively.  Google can detect poor navigation structure through its users’ behavior. Make sure your website is optimized for seamless navigation and longer engagement. Otherwise it will get buried under competitors’ websites that are more user-friendly.

5. You’re Not Targeting Keywords Effectively

Each page on your website should target a different keyword, and the keywords should be placed into the body of the page naturally. If you can’t find your website when you type relevant search terms into Google, make sure the page associated with that keyword has accurate, up-to-date, useful information. The keywords that you should use are ones that your customers are going to be most likely to look for. To find this, it’s best to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and figure out what they would search for based on their priorities and experiences. Careful though, keyword stuffing worked in the past but will not get you blacklisted!

July 11, 2018No Comments

We Create Stories

We're living in a new era in product development, placement, and our means to advertise and market those products. Print ads are mostly dead, TV ads are bought by the large corporations, and you likely don't have a budget to hire a director to film a video that will go viral on YouTube. We're living in an era where you need creatives to help find new ways of promoting your service or product to an audience who will return to you again and again. That being said, we don't work for people with disposable products, who hire disposable employees. We work for people with new ideas, with handmade products, who have stories to tell.

We go into the field, to create visual stories about your product or service. Sometimes, we go to far off places. We're writers, artists, photographers, sure, but we're also educated consumers tired of the same old trickery.

June 4, 2018No Comments

Seven Courses – Main Street Kent

Main Street Kent hosted the annual “Seven Courses of Kent” dinner party in downtown Kent at Treno Ristorante, an upscale Italian restaurant situated in the historical train depot overlooking the Cuyahoga River.

Guests enjoyed a delectable seven-course meal comprised of dishes from seven Kent eateries. Each course was paired with a beer or wine selection chosen by a representative of Heidelberg Distributing Company. All-inclusive tickets included the seven-course dinner complete with wine and beer pairings, tax and gratuity.

This event was generously sponsored by Instantwhip Foods, Inc., Portage Community Bank, and Heidelberg Distributing Company. All food was donated by our generous business owners, and event proceeds benefited Main Street Kent.

Guests enjoyed a variety of soup, salad, hors d’oeuvre, entrée and dessert courses from these seven Kent establishments: Burnside Barbecue, Franklin Hotel Bar, Lucci's Place, NINETEEN10, Twisted Meltz, Popped!, Treno Ristorante. It’s a great opportunity to indulge in some of Kent’s best cuisine, all in one night!

June 4, 2018No Comments

Food Photography

Food Photography

Commercial photo studio specializing in food photography for local and national brands, restaurants, chefs, cookbooks, lifestyle and food-related subjects. We can shoot in studio, on location, and travel/lifestyle photography. We know our way around a kitchen, so we’ll stay out of the way, or, better yet, we can prepare your meals in-house and shoot them from our studio, provided you supply us with a recipe. Tired of over-styled food photos? Us too. Our minimal approach to food styling lets the food speak for itself. Our recipe for food photography success is as follows: 1/4c Jackson Pollock, 1/2tbs Francis Mallman, seasoned with natural light and a dash of Daido Moriyama.

We’re Gastronomes…

Who also love food photography! We could all say that we have a long history with food. We need it, after all, to survive. Our founder, Roger Hoover, began life watching his grandfather, Charles, turn flour, a few eggs, and water into divine kluski noodles. The alchemy of cooking has always intrigued him.  It was his grandfather too who inspired Roger’s brother, Josef, to become a chef. In all, there are three chefs in our founder’s family alone. It was only natural that Hoover combined his fine art education with his love for food and became a food photographer.

 

January 24, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Search Engine Optimization and Social Media for Restaurants

We've dined at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, explored BBQ throughout the gravel roads of the American South, crushed grapes in Milan, and still take adventurous gastronomic trips in some of America's finest cities. We're food lovers with a lifetime of experience in design, marketing, and photography. That's why, a few years ago, we started focusing more on restaurants than any other industry.

Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants

Think about how you search for a restaurant. Google? Yelp (ugh)? Facebook? Its all digital. Its all online. The majority of prospective customers will find your restaurant by using a search engine. If you aren't thinking about search engine optimization (SEO), you'll be a foregone dining conclusion. Below, we identify the first steps you can take to boost your restaurant's search engine rankings.

Food Photography

We're visual creatures. This is the first thing any customer will see. It is your first chance to seating someone at your table. You need quality, high resolution food photography for your website, social media, and other marketing materials. If you haven't yet, hire a food photographer, now. For the sake of search engine optimization, when inserting an image on your website, you must include text inside the "alt" and "title" attributes - this helps the images get discovered in all search engines, boosting your rankings. For example, at a bare minimum, include your business name in these fields:

<img src="http://rustcreative.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/taproot-2.jpg" alt="Taproot Catering" title="Taproot Catering" />

Local Search

If you're a restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, you don't necessarily need to be discovered by someone searching for "fine dining" in San Francisco. Google, Yahoo, and other search engines have implemented local search results for businesses. You need to start by claiming, standardizing data, and optimizing listings for your restaurant across all of the major and relevant local search properties. This includes a mix of search engine directories, social media sites, and industry-specific directory sites.

Accurate name, address, hours and phone data that is consistent across all data sources is a critical foundational element of local SEO. Make sure your business description and business categories align with your focus search engine terms.

It is a lot of work. But all of this will work together to grow your online visibility.

Engage on Social Media

Its proven that social media engagement will drive users to your site. Social media is an experiential extension of your restaurant, food, employees and customers. Showcase what customers can expect to experience at your restaurant. A strong social presence often correlates with a strong organic search presence as content, engagement, and popularity align with the important SEO pillars.

Develop a social media strategy that reflects your brand and follow through with consistency, quality, and awareness. Engage with your followers. How you communicate online sets a perception of your overall customer service and approach.

Create Unique Content

We started a Cocktail Blog for client Franklin Hotel Bar that highlights the history of some of the classic cocktails they serve. Along with humor and copy that reflects Franklin Hotel Bar's brand, the copy is original, highly shareable, and has driven many potential customers to their bar stools. Search engines devour original content. Start writing yours now.

Along with unique content, you need to display your menu on your website...and we're not talking about adding a pdf, or inserting flash. Flash and pdfs are not searchable by search engines. You're losing customers by not sharing your menu in html.

Search Engine Optimization for Restaurants

You're crunching numbers, keeping staff working with consistency, trying to deliver the best food service in your local market. Search engine optimization and social media may be far down on your list of "things to do" but they're crucial to the overall vitality of your restaurant. Rust Creative has over twenty-years experience with search engine optimization. We have been at the forefront of social media since its inception. We're here to help you. Contact us for a free assessment of your current digital marketing health.


How can we help?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.


May 20, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Main Street Kent

Main Street Kent is a non-profit organization that focuses on the promotion, beautification, and revitalization of downtown Kent. The City of Kent, Kent State University, local businesses, and community members support Main Street Kent. Main Street Kent has 12 board members and many volunteers working to improve downtown Kent. Since Main Street Kent’s formation in 2006, dozens of new businesses have opened in downtown Kent, and a hundreds of new full-time and part-time jobs have been created. For every dollar Main Street Kent spends, $27 is returned in private investment.

Main Street Kent works to strengthen and beautify downtown Kent while fostering economic development, historic preservation, and a sense of community.

Main Street Kent's old website was in need of revitalization. They needed a new, responsive website with ecommerce functionality. This required design & development as well as server, data & email migration.

Website Analysis and Information Architecture
We began the process by analyzing all of the content and copy and search engine analytics. We eliminated all redundant or buried pages, scraped all content from the old website, and constructed a more organized site structure by defining strict categorization rules. Once we developed the new sitemap and structure, we wrote SEO rewrites for old pages (either ones that were eliminated or ones with messy URLs) to the new, SEO-friendly URLs. This would be integrated at the very end of the project.

When the client first approached us, they considered using Squarespace for the website. After reviewing analytics, we noticed that Main Street Kent received a great deal of unique daily visitors to the website. Using this data, we decided early on to use popular CMS, WordPress and WooCommerce for shopping cart functionality. WordPress and a dedicated server would allow more control of SEO and would improve site load times due to the amount of traffic they were already receiving. We chose WordPress for a number of other reasons: client familiarity played the largest role, but so did cost. Rather than develop a CMS and/or a theme from scratch, we could begin rapid development from a skeleton theme. This saved a substantial amount of money and time.

Website Design
With information architecture and the sitemap laid out, we started front end design on the website. Since we used a responsive skeleton theme to save cost, we already had a baseline responsive grid to from which to design. It was important to have a seamless user experience between pages, categories, and product pages. The homepage needed to direct the user to popular pages for dining, shopping and event destinations. The client also asked that fundraising pages were placed prominently in the header, body, and footer.

May 20, 2017Comments are off for this post.

CTRL

CTRL Eyewear is a new brand of smart wearables aiming to change the landscape of the wearables industry. CTRL Eyewear is specifically founded to create the consumer version of innovative eyewear created for the U.S. Special Forces. CTRL is established in 2015 in the Netherlands as a subsidiary of AlphaMicron Inc, Kent Ohio, USA. CTRL Eyewear aims to design, develop and market the world’s most innovative eyewear, powered by AlphaMicron’s vast experience in adaptive military lens technology.

CTRL Eyewear's Website

CTRL Eyewear approached us shortly after the company changed ownership. They wanted to migrate entire website under a new company name. Doing so posed many problems. First, there had to be no loss of SEO, emails, or sales during the process. The criteria for the job was twofold: We had to design and develop an ecommerce website quickly, and set up a Customer Support center for users and the CTRL sales team.

We start every project with research. What is the market? Who does it consist of? What markets could we develop that aren't currently being acknowledged? How do we do that? Magic sorcery. We knew immediately that CTRL's product line was sleek, minimal, and technologically impressive. We didn't want the user interface or design of the website to interfere with strong product photography or video. So, we decided on a minimal grid system and limited color palette. We would use this approach for all digital and print design.

Because CTRL is an international company with many storage facilities, we needed to streamline the ecommerce experience. Instead of sourcing a different website based on location, we moved all of the shipping and purchasing options into the hands of the consumer. One website, one experience, all managed from the backend of the website.

Customer Support Forms
The sales team requested a detailed customer RMA form. The functionality included a form with multiple questions that - once filled out by a customer - would be auto-fed into an XML spreadsheet that logged the answers to the questions, generated a unique return number, auto-saved as a PDF, sent an automatic notification to both customer and the CTRL sales/support team.

May 20, 2017No Comments

Speedbumps

The Speedbumps are an indie rock band from the great state of Ohio. Americana-UK calls their carefully orchestrated music "wistful acoustic Folk pop" led by the soulful and rootsy crooner, Erik Urycki. Because their songs are filled with intelligent lyrics underneath complex instrumentation, the band has won Relix Magazine's JAMOFF!, earned an IMA Award, and received Best Band recognition more than once within their region.

Poster Design & Social Media Cover Photos

Rust Creative develops tour poster concepts and social media marketing materials for the Speedbumps. We derive design concepts and marketing material by listening the the band's release, then design posters and cover images from those concepts.

Rust Creative has worked continuously with the Speedbumps on concert posters, promo, advertising, and t-shirt designs.

May 19, 2017No Comments

Last Chance Records

Last Chance Records is a Little Rock, Arkansas-based, independent record label specializing in Americana and indie-rock. They are home to some of our favorite songwriters, including, John Moreland, Tim Easton, American Aquarium, and more.

Website Design, Migration, and SEO re-directs
Last Chance Records asked us to design and develop a website that highlighted the label's extensive roster of some of Americana music's most talented songwriters. Their old website was static with sloppy url structure. There were many dead or missing links. LCR already set up an ecommerce solution so we needed to integrate shopping functionality into the new design. Since all orders were handled off-site, we simply added add-to-cart functionality to the new design.

Every artist page needed to have a catalog of their available records through LCR, as well as tour dates, press photos, social media contacts, and contact information.