BERT: Google’s Newest Search Update

A graphic of Seasame Street's character, BERT, in front of the logo for Google.

In our last blog post, we covered the biggest Google algorithms. Today, we’re here to discuss Google’s latest one, BERT, which may be the search engine giant’s biggest algorithm yet according to SEO experts!

BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers and it rolled out on October 21, 2019. It will impact 1 in 10 of all search queries. It is the biggest new algorithm since Google released, RankBrain, five years ago.

BERT started with English queries and is slowly starting to apply it to other languages. On December 9, 2019, Search Engine Land reported BERT is rolling out to Google search in over 70 languages.

BERT is addressing a gap in previous architectures. It helps computers understand language the way humans do. Google has said BERT helps their search engine to “better understand the nuances and context of words in searches and better match those queries with more relevant results.”

BERT will also impact featured snippets. Featured snippets, also known as “answer boxes,” are the text on top of Google’s organic results (if there are Google Ads in the search results, the featured snippets will be below them). Featured snippets aim at answering the user’s question right away.

A Google search to 'what are featured snippets.'

Now, if you read our last blog post, you’re probably thinking BERT doesn’t sound that novice. In 2013, Google rolled out Hummingbird, the first algorithm to understand the context of search queries.

What makes BERT different is how it goes about processing and understanding languages. It has pattern recognitions, which help Google’s search to better understand how humans communicate. Until now, Google had a hard time answering complex or conversational based queries.

Another reason why BERT was invented is because queries are getting more conversational. Users are treating their devices like companions and voice search is becoming more popular.  BERT won’t really affect short search queries. It will focus on long-tail queries.

According to this article about BERT, In human beings, language is innate and nurtured. In machines, nothing is innate.

Google Examples For BERT

Below are some examples Google has made to better illustrate BERT.

Example #1

An example made by Google to help users understand BERT.

BERT allows Google to better understand words like ‘to’ and ‘need.’ As we can see, they are very important to understanding this query.

Example #2

In this example, Google couldn’t tell if ‘stand’ was a verb or noun.

Example #3

In the past, Google would put a lot of emphasis on the word ‘curb’ and not on the word ‘no.’

You can read more about Google’s explanation here

Marketers don’t have to do anything to “respond” or “prepare” for BERT. BERT was created to neither penalize sites or benefit them.

If your website does take a  hit from BERT, it’s most likely because you were getting traffic from queries that shouldn’t have been giving you traffic because they weren’t the best fit for the query. 

It should be noted RankBrain is not dead. RankBrain was Google’s first artificial intelligence method for understanding queries. It came about in 2015. It looks at both queries and the content on the web pages in Google’s index to better understand what the meanings of the words are. BERT has not replaced RankBrain. It is an additional method for understanding content and queries. But when Google thinks a query can be better understood with the help of BERT, Google will use that. For a single query, Google can use multiple methods for understanding it.

At Sperling Interactive, we pride ourselves on being experts at search engine marketing. Be sure to read more about search engine marketing here.

Google’s Biggest Search Algorithms

In September 2002, Google announced it made its first change to its search algorithm. 

At the time, a number of Internet commentators predicted this as the death of PageRank (the name for Google’s system for ranking pages) and a decline in the quality of Google’s search results. 

To an SEO marketer today, that is comical as Google makes thousands of changes every year to its algorithm to improve its user experience. Most of these changes are so minor they can go completely unnoticed. 

However, every now and then, Google rolls out a major algorithm that significantly impact search results. Today we’re breaking down Google’s biggest algorithms throughout the years.

Boston Update

In February 2003, the Boston update became the first named Google update. It was named at SES Boston, an engineering science conference put on by Northeastern University. Google’s initial goal was to change its algorithm every month. It soon changed that goal to day-to-day changes. It’s last monthly update was Esmeralda and it came out in June 2003.

Cassandra

In April 2003, Google announced the Cassandra update, which cracked down on link spam. It focused on mutual links between co-owned websites as well as hidden text and hidden links.

Dominic

In May 2003, the Dominic update came about. It affected the ways backlinks were counted.

Florida

Florida was announced in November 2003. It was a game changer in that it completely destroyed the the value of 1990s SEO tactics and started a new era of search engine optimization. Marketers learned they would have to constantly learn about Google in order to retain organic search rankings. Businesses realized SEO could be a full-time job. A big thing Florida cracked down on was keyword stuffing.

Bourbon

In May 2005, the Bourbon update came about to improve the filtering of spam from SERP (search engine result page). It focused on duplicate content, irrelevant links, and links with less credibility.

Jagger

In September 2005, Google announced Jagger and rolled out the Jagger update in three stages. One in September, one in October, and one in November. It negatively impacted duplicate content across multiple domains, hidden text, redirects, and cloaking (cloaking is when content presented to search engines is different than the content presented to a user’s browser).

Vince

Vince is an algorithm update that came out in February 2009. Google called it a minor change, but some SEO commentators believe it was major. Many big name brands started appearing for broad-level, high volume keyword searches. SEO professionals presumed the reason brands were doing well organically is because they tend to generate a lot of links from external sites and get a lot mentions from the media. An accumulation of news, social media, and blogs provided the trust signals for a relevant first-page ranking.

Caffeine

On August 10, 2009, Google introduced Caffeine. It brought about faster crawling, an expansion of indexing, and near-real-time integration of indexing and ranking. Caffeine’s focus was determining reputation and authority, and returning more relevant results quicker. 

Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher search results, and has the largest collection of web content Google has ever offered.  It wasn’t so much an algorithm update but a new way Google began indexing websites.

Panda

Panda came out on February 23, 2011. This algorithm is focused on reducing low-quality, thin content in search results and instead rewarding compelling, unique content. This algorithm assigns each page a quality classification.  Panda cracked down on spam and high ad-to-content ratio. The Panda update was a response to the growing number of complaints in the search community that low-quality content sites rank higher than high-quality sites with positive user experiences.

Above The Fold/Top Heavy

On January 19, 2012, Google rolled out Above The Fold/Top Heavy. Just like it sounds, this algorithm impacted page layout, in particular above the fold layout. Above the fold is the section of a webpage that is visible without scrolling. 

Above The Fold/Top Heavy targeted websites with too many static ads above the fold. Essentially these ads would force users to scroll down the page to see content. Google found websites with an excess supply of ads gave users a poor user experience. In March 2017, Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed this algorithm still plays a big role in search results.

Penguin

Penguin, also known as the web spam algorithm update, came out on April 24, 2012. Penguin targeted websites that practiced manipulative link building. The websites impacted by Penguin did blackhat techniques.

Pirate

On August 10, 2012, Google announced it would start penalizing websites with repeat copyright infringements. This algorithm update was called ‘Pirate’ among SEO commentators.

Exact Match Domain Algorithm

Exact Match Domain Algorithm was released on September 27, 2012 and it impacted exact match domain names. This algorithm targeted poor quality websites with exact match domain names. What made these sites poor was their thin content offered little to no value to users. 

Payday Loan Algorithm

The Payday Loan Algorithm rolled out on June 11, 2013. This algorithm targeted questionable industries like super high interest loans and payday loans. Payday loans, debt consolidation sites, casinos, pharmaceuticals, non-bank loan companies, and insurance companies were affected along with spammy search queries.

Pigeon

Pigeon was created for local searches and it was released on August 20, 2013. Pigeon aimed to offer better local search results for local businesses. Google enhanced hundreds of ranking signals for both Google search and Google Maps.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird entered the world on September 27, 2013. Hummingbird’s aim was to get better at understanding context when it comes to search queries as it noticed users’ searches were becoming more conversational. It was a predecessor for BERT. 

Hummingbird marked a huge advancement in Google’s search technology. It impacted 90% of searches worldwide. Hummingbird has three focuses: conversational search, human search, and the foundations of voice search. During the early days of the Internet, it was hard for Google to find what you were searching for. Hummingbird focused on synonyms and theme-related topics.

RankBrain 

RankBrain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that helps Google sort through search results. It goes through billions of pages and deems what is most relevant to a search query. RankBrain went live on April 2015, but wasn’t introduced to the world until October 2015. SearchEngineLand believes RankBrain is a part of Hummingbird’s search algorithm. So RankBrain is not so much an algorithm, but an important signal for Hummingbird. In fact, it’s the third most influential ranking factor.

Mobilegeddon

Having a mobile friendly website became important on April 21, 2015 as Google dropped Mobilegeddon that day.  This algorithm was coined by Search Engine Land. The algorithm gave a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results.

Possum

Possum was never announced nor confirmed by Google, but it supposedly impacts Google My Business listings. It positively affected businesses outside of a city’s limits. Prior to Possum, businesses not technically within a city’s limits had a difficult time ranking well for those keywords. For example, a general contractor in Somerville that does a lot of work in Boston would not show for searches like ‘contractors in Boston’ even though Somerville is close to the city and makes up the Greater Boston area.

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty

Intrusive interstitial penalty was announced in August of 2016. Content that is not easily accessible to users using mobile search would not rank as highly.

Fred

The ‘Fred’ update happened in March of 2017. Its purpose is to crack down on sites that prioritize monetization over user experience. Websites with low quality user engagement, thin content, content heavily geared toward conversions, and UX barriers (pop ups, navigational obstacles, etc.) were all impacted.

At Sperling Interactive, we’re focused on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to SEO. We understand providing users with the best experience possible is what helps keep businesses visible in search. If you’d like help appearing organically, give us a call at (978) 304-1730.  Or check out our popular SEO seminar on December 12th.

Why Website Maintenance Is So Important

A website isn’t done after the development team that made it has finished production on it. Continuous maintenance is needed to ensure the website continues to function the way it was built. If a website is left untouched, one day it will become outdated, both in the code and the software. Users will encounter slow load time, broken links, and outdated content if no website maintenance is ever performed. Just like you would take your car into the auto shop to get its routine oil change after the check engine light comes on, you should make sure your website gets the same tender love and care. Here is why website maintenance is so important.

Security 

Security is arguably the biggest reason why one should maintain their website. If you are using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you need to keep up with the platform’s security and software updates. When you fail to do these things you make your website more vulnerable to hackers. Hacking happens to all types of websites. No site is too small and no CMS is excluded. Hacking typically happens to older sites that haven’t been maintained. 

SEO

Another reason why website maintenance is importance is SEO. Google and other major search engines reward websites that are up to date, are always publishing fresh content, and function properly. As a result, you can lower your site’s search ranking, receive less site traffic, and encounter less sales by not maintaining your site.

There are six key components to SEO. Keywords on site, dynamic content, mobile friendliness, fast site speed, social media engagement, and high quality external websites linking to your own (this is referred to as link building). By maintaining your site, it will be easier for other sites to want to link to you.

It Improve User Experience  

Search engines aren’t the only thing that like sites that offer users a positive user experience. The users themselves love that and want that! 

No user wants to go to a website only to find the page they were looking for is broken and therefore can’t present the information they need. 

When websites aren’t maintained, their theme and template files may not display properly on new versions of web browsers and mobile devices. 
Another thing that contributes to a positive user experience is dynamic content. Dynamic content not only improves a site’s SEO, but it shows users your business is still in operation. Additionally, research has found that 84% of people expect brands to create content. Content educates and delights users and can be a contribute to prospects ultimately buying from you.

It Backs Up Important Files

One of the things website maintenance does is it backs up files. If you’re not backing up files and a malware attack happens, you could lose your whole site! Imagine having no website. You would have to start all over again. In turn, being on a maintenance plan can save you money and time.

In a nutshell, website maintenance is incredibly important and can’t be ignored. At Sperling Interactive, we can manage a site’s maintenance, hosting, security, and SSL certificate. It doesn’t matter if we didn’t design or develop your site for you. We’re here to help you. You can give us a call at (978) 304-1730.

Tips For A Successful Rebrand

The word 'branding' typed out on a typewriter.

We all remember last year when Massachusetts’ own Dunkin’ Donuts dropped its name to just Dunkin’. Dunkin’ Donuts had been known on a first name basis by fans for years, and it was dropping the ‘donut’ to transform itself into “a beverage-led, on-the-go brand.” What Dunkin’ underwent was a rebrand. Rebranding may seem like it’s just changing your company’s name or logo, but there’s a lot more to it. Here our top tips on how to have a successful rebrand.

Make Sure You Have A Purpose

There are many reasons a business rebrands itself. They may feel their current brand is too generic. They’re feeling embarrassed to pass out business cards or share their website’s URL.

It may be because they are merging with another company or have acquired another one.

Or it could be because their business has evolved. They have new markets and therefore need a new brand to connect with their new audiences.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to have a ‘why’ behind your rebrand.  

Check For Trademarks

The last thing you want is to fall in love with a name or logo that is already being used by another company.

Sometimes companies will hire a law firm to perform comprehensive trademark searches, but you don’t have to do that. You can look for trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on their website. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is the federal agency in charge of maintaining the national register of trademarks.

You should also perform a Google search of the name you’re thinking of going with. This website can tell you if the domain you like is still available.

Don’t Forget A Tagline

Just Do It. Because You’re Worth It. Finger Lickin’ Good. These are a few well known company taglines. Taglines are important as they represent your company’s mission. They are something competitors can’t steal from you and it’s what differentiates you from them. We recommend your tagline be no longer than five or six words and that it shows off your organization’s personality. Check out our previous blog on the difference between taglines and positioning statements for some more inspiration on taglines. 

Create A New Brand Guide

A brand guide is a formal document that dictates how branding elements can be used such as fonts and colors. Every organization needs a brand guide as it will keep your brand consistent every time it is used, be it via your website, business cards, social media, email signatures, letterheads, brochures, physical space, etc. Brand guides will also keep everyone inside your organization and outside of it on top of how to use and communicate your brand going forward. 

Alert Your Team

As we mentioned, your brand is more than your name and logo. It’s your company experience, and as such, everyone on your team from your customer service reps, sales reps, and marketers to accountants, project managers, and owners each impact how outsiders perceive your business. You should let your team know you’re going to rebrand and make sure they understand the company’s new core values so it can shape how they conduct themselves professionally. To go back to our last point, everyone at your organization should have a copy of the brand guide.

Go Public

What’s the point of doing a rebrand if you’re not going to announce it to the world. Have a press release published in your local newspaper. Write a blog post exploring the 

‘why’ behind your rebrand and the creative process. Share the news on social media to all of your followers.

Sperling Interactive is a branding company that knows how to make you stand out from the crowd. We can work with businesses, nonprofits, and schools to deliver an impactful and consistent name, logo, and tagline. 

Media Buying & Planning

A nighttime photography of Piccadilly Circus.

Have you just launched a new product or service for your business? If so, congratulations! Now, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to market this new offering. One beneficial way is through media buying. 

Like search engine marketing, media buying is very much a formula. There is a whole process behind media buying. As such, for today’s blog post we’re going to be covering all the steps for a successful media buy. Before we begin, let’s dive into what media buying is. 

What Is Media Buying? 

Never heard of the term before? Media buying is the procurement of media space and time to display ads. Media buying falls into the paid media category and includes print ads, radio advertising, commercials, and even digital ads. Because it is so diverse,  it can be a very beneficial avenue for businesses to help them achieve their marketing goals.

Know Your Audience 

Before you launch a campaign, you need to first determine who your target audience is. What is the age, gender, social status, marital status, location, and hobbies of your ideal customer? Paint a picture of who they are. These insights will help you not only with your messaging, but it’ll help you choose where you display your ads. 

Research Your Target Audience


Once you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to do research on your audience. Businesses need to know where their ideal customers and clients spend their time and what leads to their purchases. As we blogged about earlier this year, not every generation buys the same way. Read our blog post, How to Market to Different Generations, to learn more about the four different generations- baby boomers, gen X, millennials, and gen Z. Older generations are more likely to respond to traditional forms of media like print, radio, and TV whereas younger generations prefer social media, blogs, and YouTube. 

Research Time & Messaging 

To be successful, you also need to factor in the right place, time, and messaging. 

These days timing is everything when it comes to advertising. Knowing where you audience is at a given time is the difference between a strong ROI and thousands of dollars just wasted. This article from Centro shows daily, weekly, and seasonal consumer trends.  

Equally important is messaging. Powerful messaging will express the value of your brand and it’ll help your ideal customers and clients resonate with you. To write compelling copy, think about what differentiates your business from others like it. Use imagery to tell your story and don’t forget to keep the copy simple. Don’t be too wordy. 

Research Competitors 

Knowing what your competitor is doing is always critical. You should ask yourself, do they have a media buying strategy? What are their marketing strategies? What is their key messaging? Knowing this information can help you save time and money. 

Choose The Media

Next, you have to select which media you want to go with. Your ad could be displayed in a newspaper, travel guide, magazine or on a commercial, billboard, or the radio. When choosing your media, be sure to think about your audience. Baby boomers are more likely to pick up a print publication. The ways Generation X likes to be marketed can be comparable to Baby Boomers and/or Millenials. Millenials like engaging with creative, interactive forms of media.

Allocate Your Budget

Ah, budgets. While they can be annoying and anxiety-inducing, they are always important when money is concerned. 

Negotiating 

Whether you select a radio station or newspaper publisher, it’s important to negotiate beforehand, not after. Look for deals and ask for discounts. Be sure to compare offers before you make a final decision.  

If you’d like the extra help with media buying, let us know. At Sperling Interactive, we have done media buying campaigns for various businesses.

Interview With Our Director of Search Marketing, Ray St. Amand

A photograph of Sperling Interactive's director of search marketing, Ray St. Amand using a laptop.
Managing digital marketing campaigns is no easy task what with SEO and social media algorithms constantly changing, and we are so grateful to have our director of search marketing, Ray St. Amand, on staff. Ray manages all aspects of our pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing, and SEO efforts and oversees four digital marketers. He always make it point to educate himself so our team can stay ahead of the curve. Today we decided to sit down and interview Ray about his role at Sperling Interactive, how he develops marketing strategies, and his personal interests.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Salem, Massachusetts but grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts.

What does your day-to-day life look like as the director of search marketing for Sperling Interactive? 

My day-to-day is always evolving. One day I could be focusing on a new campaign launch for a client while the next day I could be having client calls and meetings throughout the day. Guiding and mentoring my team is always my top priority as well. Each day is different which makes me love my role.

What is your favorite part about search engine marketing? 

I personally love conducting website audits and finding new ways to improve the sites’ functionality and user experience. I also enjoy developing content plans. There is just something calming and satisfying about clicking through every page of a website and thinking as a user would.  

Digital marketing is one industry that changes all the time. How do you keep up and continue learning? 

I am always reading new articles, subscribing to weekly newsletters from popular marketing blogs like Search Engine Land and Neil Patel. From there, I take the things I’ve learned and put them into action while testing my own creative ideas at the same time.

What do you wish people knew about search engine marketing? 

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, a search engine marketing strategy takes time to progress. It isn’t like flipping a switch and being flooded with leads and results. It takes time to mold our strategy, analyze the data, and make adjustments when necessary. 

What’s your favorite thing about Salem? 

The beautiful history of architecture. I love walking around some of the old neighborhoods and imagining what it looked like hundreds of years ago. My favorite area is the Wharf area and Derby Street. I lived off of Derby Street for three years and loved how the Willows, the Commons, the waterfront, and Downtown area so close in proximity.

What is something no one knows about you? 

That’s a tough one. I’d have to say my passion for cars. My father was a mechanic in Salem back in the 70’s and 80’s and growing up we’d always work on the family cars together (mostly me handing him tools and finding the bolts and nuts that fell in tight places).

You can learn more about our awesome staff here,here, and here

The Benefits of Retargeting For Your Business

An iMac computer opened up to Google Analytics.
Retargeting is a marketing tactic we do for a lot of our clients here at Sperling Interactive. We have found it to be a powerful way to get the word out about our awesome clients. As a result, today we wanted to explain what retargeting is and the benefits of retargeting for your business.

What is retargeting?

There are a number of reasons why people who visited your website don’t buy from you or reach out to you.  It could because they’re comparing prices, browsing and doing their initial research, or they got distracted. First impressions are important but they can also be forgotten about. That’s where retargeting comes into play.

Retargeting involves targeting individuals who have shown initial interest in your product or service. They went to your website, but left without completing any action (i.e. filling out a form, purchasing a product, registering for an event, etc.) Retargeting tries to get people who have repeatedly visited your site to convert.

Retargeting vs. remarketing

These two terms may sound the same but they are actually different. Remarketing is the term used to describe re-engaging prospects with email. An example of remarketing is a company sending a person an email to remind they have abandoned their shopping cart.  Another example is when a company sends you an email after you bought a product with products similar to the one you bought as a way to engage you with their company again. Retargeting, on the other hand, entails display advertisements. It’s the ads you see as you explore other websites while crawling the web. This blog post of ours dives deeper into how retargeting works. 

The Benefits of Retargeting

More sales

This is certainly a goal for every business doing retargeting. Whether or not your business has an online store, getting sales should be your website’s ultimate goal.

Attracts prospects

The people you retarget showed initial interest in your offerings. Retargeting is a way to nudge them. As we noted before, there are various reasons people don’t return to your website. Retargeting is a way to remind them about you.

It increases users’ time spent on your website

When you are using retargeting, you are reconnecting with prospects and this leads to users spending more time on a website.

It increases brand awareness

Only 2% of web users make a purchase on their very first visit to an online store and about 96% of all website visitors visit websites when they are not ready to buy. Studies have shown it takes most customers seven interactions with a brand before they build trust and buy from it. Retargeting allows your brand to have more interactions with your prospects. It helps people remember your logo, products or services, and slogan.

There are multiple ways to retarget people

Website visitors can be targeted through either pixel-based retargeting or list-based retargeting. Pixel-based retargeting reaches anonymous website visitors and list-based retargeting reaches contacts in a database. 

Pixel-based targeting is powered by browser cookie technology. The website has a bit of code that is invisible to users. Each time a new visitor comes to your website, the code embeds a cookie onto the visitor’s browser. When the visitor leaves the site, the cookie will track future web traffic. 

List-based targeting is usually used on social media platforms and allows you to retarget people in your business social media database. The advantage of listed based targeting is your ads can be highly customizable given the knowledge you have of the contacts. 

You can also target specific audiences with retargeting. You can target people based on their interests and demographic. You can target warm leads such as site visitors who abandoned their shopping cart.

As you can see there are many ways to target prospects and there are many benefits to it. To learn more about retargeting and how it can help your business, call us at (978) 304-1730. We’d be happy to have a complimentary call with you.

Website Launch: Premier Bride

The homepage of premierbride.com.

Anyone who’s planned a wedding before knows the process can be overwhelming. With so many vendors to choose from it can be hard to know where to begin and where’s the best place to find them. If you’re in the same boat or know someone who’s getting married, direct them to Premier Bride, one of our latest websites! Bringing couples and wedding vendors together is what Premier Bride does best. 

Premier Bride is an award-winning publishing and marketing venue that helps couples plan their wedding locally. They are a company that operates with both the engaged couple and wedding service providers in mind. They offer real time wedding information, helpful tips, photo galleries, and quality wedding services. 

We started working with Premier Bride at the beginning of this year. The main goal with this website was capturing couples who are planning their wedding. Premier Bride wanted engaged couples to use their site throughout the whole process of them planning their big day. One of the problems with their old site is users would get stuck in circles when they were trying to find vendors. The navigation wasn’t clean, and as a result, it left users confused. Additionally, Premier Bride wanted to make sure vendors knew couples are using their site as an active source. 

Premier Bride’s Old Site

Here’s what Premier Bride’s old site looked like.

The homepage on Premier Bride's last website.

Premier Bride’s old homepage.

The drop down menu that would appear when you would look for your wedding location on the old site.

Here’s the drop down menu that would appear when you would look for your wedding location on the old site.

The old homepage for Premier Bride Boston.

The former page for Premier Bride Boston. You would look for vendors in your area by utilizing the left sidebar. 

Premier Bride’s New Navigation

The homepage of premierbride.com.

Premier Bride’s new homepage. 

We wanted to keep the homepage simple since Premier Bride is a multi-site website. There is a site for each Premier Bride location under one WordPress installation. Users go to the location that most applies to them. 

The homepage for Premier Bride’s Boston site.

The mega menu for Premier Bride's new website.

We decided to keep the navigation simple too. Local Wedding Vendors and Advice  Planning is the only place where users get a drop down menu. Users can also use the search bar to find vendors that best match their wedding vision.

The wedding ceremonies and chapel page of Premier Bride.

The Boston Ceremony Sites & Chapels web page. Users scroll down to view all the venues in the Boston area. Users also have the ability to enter their zip code or filter A-Z.

A New Aesthetic 

Phil Condon, the developer for this project, explains “we had to develop one market theme that all of the sites share. Because WordPress (the content management platform we used to build the site) can pull dynamic content, it makes each site unique. Each site uses a database that pulls the content onto the pages.” 

“Premier Bride wanted a traditional wedding feel with a modern design. They wanted a design that would make them stand out from other wedding planners,” described designer, Jose Gonzalez. To capture this, Jose decided to let the photos of couples getting married and the cursive font in the heading tags do much of the story telling.

“I think it’s cool each site has the same bones, but they can all be tweaked to be their own unique site. Every site offers a new user experience,” said Lauren Termini, one of the project managers.  

Optimizing For Search Engines

Every site at Sperling Interactive is optimized for search engines. Our search engine marketing director, Ray St. Amand, stated the key for this multi-site was including locations in the meta titles. A meta title is the name of a web page. The title is displayed in the browser and visitors and search engines read it. A mistake to avoid when creating a meta title is any keywords that are too vague. Adding the city or region into the meta titles for each Premier Bride site was important as it helps couples planning their weddings in that location find Premier Bride. 

The catering page on Premier Bride's website.

Boston Catering-Beverage is the meta title for this page. 

To show Premier Bride’s effectiveness to wedding service providers, Ray put UTM codes on the vendors’ links. A UTM code is code added to the end of a URL that tracks the performance of a campaign. Through a UTM code, a vendor can see who came to their site via Premier Bride. 

After building the websites for several event venues like the Hawthorne Hotel, Danversport Yacht Club, and Publick House Historic Inn it was fun creating the website for the ultimate wedding planner. It was a large project for sure, but one we were up for the challenge of!   

To learn about other websites we launched this year, check out here and here.

Marketing Tips For Home Service Businesses

A modern kitchen.

We’ve done blog posts before where we gave away our top marketing tips for some of the main industries we serve- schools and travel and tourism. Today we wanted to write a blog post for another industry we do a lot of work with- home service businesses- and how companies in that industry can better market themselves. 

Get Your Home Service Business Featured In A Magazine 

We may live in a digital world, but print is not dead. Many homeowners get inspiration for their homes in home magazines be it the publication’s website or a hard copy of their latest issue.

There are a ton of home and garden magazines out there, and while it can be tempting to go with the national, household name magazine, there are also popular online magazines, regional magazines, and blogs that may be interested in displaying your work and whom can help build traction for your home service business. 

When it comes to pitching, we advise doing one pitch at a time. You want to wow the editor with a customized pitch. The worst thing for editors are pitches that feel automated and impersonal. You should deliver your pitch via email as most editors don’t like cold calls. Make the pitch short and to the point. Another thing you’ll want to attach to your pitch is high resolution photos of the project. 

To increase your visibility to the publication’s editor, keep your website up to date with fresh content. You want to make your home service business look like it’s in business and popular.   

Have A Pinterest Account 

Speaking of places homeowners like to get inspiration, Pinterest is another fantastic outlet for home services businesses, particularly interior designers, architects, and construction companies. Use your Pinterest account to showcase your own projects as well as outside projects that your business could either replicate or your target audience would be into. When it comes to content on your website, don’t forget pins. A pin is any image or video that someone chooses to save to Pinterest. We advise all of the photos on your blog posts should have pins. 

Blog

Just like print isn’t dead, neither is blogging. Blogging prevents your website from looking stale and it impacts SEO. Every blog post you write is a chance to rank for certain keywords that are relevant to your home service business. You will want to put your keywords in the post’s title tag, meta description, heading tags, and the content. 

Location Focused Keywords

An important thing to note is that most home service businesses tend to service a particular area. If that’s the case for your home service business, you might want to have the region or town/ cities you service in your keywords. 

Create Content Around Design Trends 

Talking about design trends on social media and in your blog posts is an excellent way to show your up-to-date and know all the trends. This is a great idea for architects, interior designers, and remodelers/contractors.

Instagram

Instagram is the most visual social media platform and is a must for home service businesses. Like home magazines and Pinterest, home owners love getting inspiration from this source. You can post photos of projects as well as create mood boards.

360° Virtual Tours

As we blogged about earlier this year, VR experiences are on the rise. Nothing will wow prospectives more than the ability to feel like they have stepped inside foot one of your projects.

Give A Sneak Peak At Projects In The Works

Utilize social media to give followers a sneak peak of projects in the works. People will like being along for the ride, and it’ll give you a chance to show prospects your creative process. 

Invest In Job Signs

This traditional marketing outlet never goes out of style. If you’re a home service business whose work appear on the outside of a house,  a sign outside is a great way to get people who pass by and are impressed with your work the chance to contact you. 

Do A Newsletter

An alternate way to get people to know about your home service business and work is newsletters. You can use newsletters to spotlight projects, share blog posts, and feature testimonials. 

At Sperling Interactive, we have worked with an array of home service businesses. We’d be happy to consult with you over the marketing strategy for your home service business at (978) 304-1730.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

You have probably heard the term ‘inbound marketing’ before. It has become quite the buzzword, and right now it is the future of marketing. 

How Inbound Marketing Differs From Outbound Marketing 

Inbound marketing is the process of attracting prospects to your business’s products or services through content that educates and delights. Inbound marketing is an online marketing strategy that entails your website, blog, social media, email marketing efforts, etc. 

Outbound marketing is often viewed as traditional marketing. Tactics for outbound marketing include telemarketing, radio/TV, trade shows, seminars, emails to purchased lists etc. 

Why Outbound Marketing Is Becoming Less Effective 

Outbound marketing is called outbound because it is all about pushing your message out there in the hopes of it resonating. Over time, this strategy has become less effective. As this article from Hubspot states, because people are becoming more and more inundated with outbound marketing efforts, they are starting to utilize ways to block them out like caller ID, spam filtering, and Sirius satellite radio. 

Outbound has a low ROI because it targets everyone and anyone. Inbound targets the right type of traffic to your brand. You attract these people by knowing and understanding your ideal buyers. 

Why Inbound Marketing Is The Future

As we noted above, inbound marketing requires the Internet, and as a society we are using the Internet now more than ever before. An estimated 1.92 billion people are expected to purchase something online in 2019

The Internet provides buyers with instant information gratification. They can learn just about anything there is to know about a brand from their pricing and reviews to their turnaround on delivery and staff in just a few clicks. 

Another reason why inbound marketing is the future is customer buyer behavior is changing. Brand trust has never been more important. Due to the Internet, consumers have more options than ever before and they can also compare those options. 

Due to the political climate, people also caring more about authenticity and integrity from brands.  As this article from Crowdspring states, millennials in particular have a deep distrust of traditional advertising. A study found that only 1% of the millennials polled would trust a brand because of their advertising. This generation alone is one reason why outbound marketing is becoming less popular. 

The Different Types Of Inbound Marketing 

There is no single inbound marketing tactic that works well on its own. While we rely on SEO to draw visitors from an organic search, SEO doesn’t work if there’s no content on a site. Without social media promotion, blogs don’t reach interested people. 

Inbound marketing is about targeting verses advertising to the masses. In inbound marketing, the mission is to represent customers and be found verses representing a company and finding customers. It’s 1:1 targeting verses mass advertising. 

Although it varies greatly from business to business, these days buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they before they engage with a vendor’s sales rep. In inbound-marketing, efforts build upon themselves over time. 

To wrap things up here’s why inbound marketing works: 

  • It Increases Brand Awareness 
  • Puts Customers In the Driver’s Seat
  • Is Fact-Based Over Intuitive-Based 
  • Improves SEO


At its core, inbound marketing is curating a strategic content strategy tailored for each stage of the buyer’s journey. By doing so, you are providing valuable content towards each specific user. 

At Sperling Interactive we offer search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media, blogging, and email marketing. We work hard to implement inbound marketing for each of these services for each of our clients.  To speak with us, call (978) 304-1730.