OptFirst Named a Top Local SEO & SEM Agency on Clutch

OptFirst Internet Marketing is an integrated search marketing firm. We are located in Miami Shores, Fl., and we specialize in PPC and SEO services. Our team of 19 works with small and mid-market businesses in mostly the real estate, legal, education, automotive and business services industries. Due to our performance, we are excited to announce Clutch has named us as one of the leading local SEO firms and one of the leading search engine marketing agencies.

Clutch is a B2B rating and reviews firm located in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Clutch’s team of analysts utilize client reviews, surveys, and data to help companies in various industries better understand their markets, and to help guide businesses’ buying decisions. This accomplishment would not have been possible without our clients; client reviews are a major component of Clutch’s rating process. They have analyzed our clients, portfolio, and market presence. With 15 reviews and an overall 4.9-star rating, we are honored to receive this recognition.

Check out some of our fortunate clients; we provided digital marketing services for a marketing group. The client needed a marketing partner and help with SEO. We helped the marketing group increase traffic for their clients, and we helped them track their progress.

Clutch’s sister sites—The Manifest and Visual Objects—also recognized our work. The Manifest is an online community that helps businesses with their goals and challenges; we are listed as one of the SEO companies. On Visual Objects, which is a more visually-based platform for businesses to connect, we are included in the list of internet marketing companies.

A 2018 Forbes article emphasizes the importance and gives instructions on how small businesses can utilize SEO and SEM. OptFirst is happy to be a firm that provides these crucial services.

Again, we would like to thank Clutch for this honor and our clients for their feedback. OptFirst looks forward to continuing our current client relationships and building more in the future. Check out our Clutch profile, and contact us about our services.

Agency Secrets Revealed: “We’re giving it all away”

John Kriney Reveals OptFirst’s Secrets: “We’re giving it all away”

Today I interviewed my boss John Kriney, author and Founding President of OptFirst Internet Marketing and learn the secrets of how to run a successful Online marketing business.  John and his staff at OptFirst Internet Marketing have spent the last 15 years running successful Internet Marketing campaigns and coding. In his latest book, The Online Marketing Manual, John divulges exactly how OptFirst delivers on its promise to make money for businesses via Google Ads, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and reputation management services.

Dressed casually, standing at 6’2 with a lean athletic frame, John Kriney makes his way down the OptFirst hallway.  He stops briefly before entering the conference room to speak to my colleague about what sounds like the launch of an ad campaign on LinkedIn about to go live.   After hearing that the campaign is live and “tracking”, he turns his attention to me. He walks past the Wynwood-esque wall mural visible through the conference room’s glass panels and enters the room with a smile. He’s five minutes early.

Me: Good morning John.

John Kriney: Morning Parker.  Did you like the book?

Me: Yes. It’s a great read and breaks down what we do here.  In fact, it seems like its the operations manual! Why publish a book that tells people exactly what we do and how it’s done?  Why make all that information public?

JK: It’s already public information, the difficulty is in finding it, putting it together in a way that makes sense and knowing how to apply it to your business.  A lot of marketing students, start-up founders, and smaller marketing departments need these services – but aren’t big enough yet where it would make sense to come to an agency like OptFirst.  We’ve had quite a few ebook downloads so far and most of those have been small businesses and few students.

Me: So, bigger companies need to do more than what’s outlined in the book?

JK: Actually, … the book covers all the areas that bigger companies need to build their online campaign strategies.  Smaller entities are more likely to just need some of the items in the book. That being said, some smaller entities can really benefit from understanding exactly what we do and how we do it – then opting to outsource that work to us anyway.  It means that they can hire more people to do what really matters, which is focusing on their business. So, they can hire people for legal services, selling real estate, providing medical services, etc. This is the same way the OMM helps larger organizations identify areas that they can cover with their own resources and gives them the knowledge to outsource other processes such as advertising their company to a top Internet marketing agency like OptFirst.

Me:  What makes OptFirst a “top marketing agency” in terms of competition?

JK:  That’s very simple, we’re incredibly good at two things that matter the most: tracking and coding and those two things combined with the processes I laid out in the book make us a cut above the rest. We save a lot of time for companies by keeping track of everything that happens on every campaign.  Every visitor, click, form fill and phone call is tracked and can be linked back to a specific source. We also make multiple landing pages for many of our campaigns and can set-up tracking code on websites and mobile apps.  We built our own customizable dashboard, Campaign Dash to show all the key metrics from dozens of different areas all in one place. We coded our own mobile app for iOS and Android to automate review management for our clients. This just means that things happen faster, more cost-efficiently and more accurately with us. That translates to more profit in less time for our clients.

Me: So, what are the areas of the book?

JK: You read the book …

Me: [laughing] okay so SEO, Search Advertising, Paid Social and Reputation Management.  What do businesses need to know about what those terms mean?  Which ones are more important?

JK: They are all important but SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is king.  It’s the core of what happens on the internet. People are searching for information and its the only reason why people go online with their phones, Macs, PCs and now IOT [Internet of Things] voice assistants.  SEO is the best investment in the long run for most businesses since it builds relevance and authority online and is hard for competitors to counter – if its done right.

Me: Is SEO link-building and making sure the meta descriptions on a word press site have the right keywords?

JK: You know the answer to that!

Me: I’m just asking you for the interview…

John Kriney Celebrating OptFirst Internet Marketing 10th anniversary

JK: [smiling] That’s a small part of it these days.  Keywords in the meta tags and H1 header content form a small part of what we call “On-Page SEO” in The Online Marketing Manual.  In the book, we include activities like link-building in “Off-Page SEO”.  Though we caution readers about being too gung-ho about building links in the wrong places and in the wrong way.  It is supposed to be a marathon and not a sprint. Too much too fast can lead to over-optimization, a concept we describe in the book, but it’s basically a counterproductive mentality for SEO.

Me: So, having good SEO in the long term is key to online success.  What can a company do online to make money now?

JK:  Now?  Web campaigns take a couple weeks to set-up right but if “now” means by this month or next month, the answer is Search Advertising and Paid Social.

Me: Google Ads which was formerly known as Ad Words correct?

JK: Exactly.  Search Advertising is Google Ads 90% of the time.  If set up right, a company with no prior online presence can go from launch to their first conversion in days rather than weeks.  A conversion might be a form fill or call to action for your sales team. If you have an e-commerce store, conversions happen when someone buys your product.

Me: That’s right.  Google Shopping Ads link straight to landing pages where people can click to buy instantly.  Literally going from the ad to the product to check out.

JK: Yep – sometimes it straight from the ad to check out.  It depends on the campaign. Search Advertising strategies for e-commerce make for some of the most successful case studies in the industry. It’s as close as you can get to instant return-on-investment (ROI) in marketing. SEO plays a role here too though.  Even in paid ads. In The Online Marketing Manual, we outline the 8-Step Product set-up page that looks at the SEO-related on-page best practices for people to build into the design of a, say, Shopify or WooCommerce website.  We blend SEO, landing pages and paid ads in different ways for different campaigns.

Me: Is social media important?

JK: Depends.  You mean, do you need social media to make money as a business?

Me: Yes, that’s what I mean.  Does it matter what a business does on social media?

JK: Of course, but on social media, you need to pay to play.   It’s a major pitfall if a company relies on just organic marketing on social media.  In the OMM and across the industry we call unpaid marketing “organic”. So, SEO is organic and Google Ads is paid marketing.  Over the summer I went to an auto-industry convention and heard an executive from Facebook admit that their algorithm restricts even the hottest organic posts from corporate pages from getting more than 5% of followers wall impressions.  That’s a small share when you compare it to the potential of paid social advertising.

Me:   The book goes into detail about how tailored you can get with regards to demographics.  Is there a privacy issue with advertising to social media followers?

JK: Privacy issues are huge in the industry now.  Businesses need to be careful and that’s another area where hiring experts like OptFirst are essential for certain types of campaigns.   Reputation Management is a perfect example…

Me: Review App, our app for managing online reviews across different platforms for example.

JK: Right!  We spend the first week as you know setting up the app for a client and making sure that compliance with CAN, SPAM, TCPA, and the special statutes in their areas is looked at before we launch the campaign.  Who you text, how, when and whether they’ve opted-in or not and what other agreements they’ve made with the company is important to look at.  It can be tricky, but the upside of a good review management strategy is important.

Me: Reviews are important, 79% of users consider online reviews as important as personal recommendations.

JK: That’s right.  Because people know they are crowdsourced.  They rightly trust Google and Yelp to properly curate reviews and prevent “astroturfing”. Astroturfing is when businesses and competitors make fake reviews to maliciously boost or harm a business.  We help our reputation management clients avoid those traps.

Me: And what happens if someone’s business gets victimized by malicious reviews?

JK: It can get worse than just reviews.  We’ve seen people’s Google My Business profiles hijacked and sabotaged by unscrupulous competitors.  In one case, a client came to us after they were effectively slandered in a popular movie about them that was produced without their permission.  In both cases, reviews are not the issue – it’s what happens when people search your name and find what others are writing about you. Or pretending to be you.  They ended up successfully rewriting several key parts of that individual’s Wikipedia page. In another case, I personally sat at the stand as an expert witness.

Me: I remember that one. Our client won.

JK: Yes, the judge saw the overwhelming evidence and ruled in our favor. A civil judgment and we won’t go into the details here – but that competitor really messed-up and the law recognized that.  As a Google Premier Partner, we had the internal knowledge of how to get the GMB account back under our client’s control.

By the way, you forgot one last section of the book…

Me: Tracking?

JK: [laughs] Yes, tracking.

Me: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” *

JK: … and if you don’t measure it, you won’t know how to improve it.  So, we measure full-time here.

Me: All day every day.

[We both instinctively look at our watches and notice that the interview has gone over the 15 minutes we set aside to chat.  I have some ad campaign measuring to do and John is due across town for a talk he’s giving on the perils of using industry vertical-specific marketing agencies].

Me: John, thanks for your time.

JK: You’re welcome Parker.   See you this afternoon.

…and we’re off.

The Online Marketing Manual by John Kriney is aviable here. Buy it today and help your business gain the results its been looking for.

Parker Lake is an Account Manager at OptFirst Internet Marketing – a Google Premier Partner.  Coming from a development agency and a corporate sales background, his laser-like focus helps the team of content experts, programmers and marketing analysts at OptFirst methodically generate online business for their clients.   

Looking to level-up your company’s internet game? Reach out to OptFirst here.

OptFirst Internet Marketing has just expanded

Optfirst Internet Marketing has just expanded in size!   The Miami Shores-based Internet marketing agency removed the wall between their original office and space formerly occupied by their neighbor on September 7th, 2018.  This expansion doubles the square footage of OptFirst’s physical location and creates a space that will make things more efficient.

The office expansion reflects OptFirst’s continued contributions to the fast-growing world of Internet marketing and web development. It’s also a necessity since increasing demand for Internet advertising and development services means more space for new employees and client presentations. OptFirst has grown from humble beginnings in 2004, to now running a bustling team of marketing and technical experts.

The new space has a pristine modern and spacious reception area and wide windows throughout. The wooden parquet flooring, and a comfortable conference room.

“I’m very excited that we’re expanding into a larger space.  This demonstrates just how committed the team is to sustained growth and success,” commented John Kriney, President of OptFirst.  “OptFirst is bigger than any one individual. Already greater than the sum of our parts, the bigger office is a key tool in our mission to provide industry-leading digital services to our clients.”

Parker Lake is an Account Manager at OptFirst Internet Marketing – a Google Premier Partner.  Coming from a development agency and a corporate sales background, he has a laser-like focus on improving his clients’ bottom line.  The team of content experts, programmers, and marketing analysts at OptFirst help organizations make more money through better use of internet advertising, better websites, and better mobile apps.   

Looking to level-up your company’s internet game? Reach out to OptFirst here.

Google My Business: Building your business by building its reputation

Google My Business is a great tool for any company to start branding themselves and building visibility. It was created by Google to inform web users of local business listings allowing them to find services they are looking for via search and Google Maps. Once users find a business, they can add pictures of the store, office or grounds of the business and even add reviews and commentaries.

Of course, Google allows businesses to manage a lot of what appears on their profiles.  This includes adding the business address(es), descriptions of the business, making social media-like posts with text and images and responding in line to reviews.

Because web users are increasingly more likely to see your Google My Business listing rather than your website, it’s essential that businesses take the necessary steps to use the platform to tell their story the way they want their audience to see it. For businesses that generate leads online,  a well-managed Google My Business profile could revolutionize your sales.

If you are responsible for marketing a business online, here are five essential steps to take to make sure you cash in on your Google My Business listing:

Take Charge of Your Listing! Get passwords to your profile.

The primary owner of a Google My Business listing should be the owner of the business that you’re listing. The reason is that you want to make sure that you have all the insights that Google gives you that will help build your business. If you’re an established business then you will want to take control of it (some business can verify by phone or email.  Many will need to verify with a postcard.) Avoid scenarios where it’s the public that tells your business story without your input. This can be especially troublesome if an unscrupulous competitor seizes control of your site and posts damaging content. If you’re a new business, the first thing you have to worry about is putting your business in the Google profile since Google might not have done it for you. After you’ve done that, you can start taking the steps to use GMB as a way of building a presence online.

Make Your Listing Accurate

Your online listing should describe your actual business.

What do people need to know about your business versus your competitors?  What time do you open and close? Have you verified all of your addresses so that pins appear for all your locations on Google Maps? Remember that you’re Google My Business listing is the first thing that 85% of internet searchers see when they are looking for what you are selling, so make sure that you’ve verified everything.  It’s also what helps them drive, rideshare or bike to your business when they use Google Maps.

When telling your story online, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Post professionally shot photos of your products, of your employees interacting with clients and with each other and caption each photo with short descriptions of what you offer.

Go one step further by including a 360 panoramic view of your business’ interior shot by a professional photographer.  This and other images can end up being featured in Google Maps and on the first page that Google generates when people search for the service or products you offer.

Be Honest and Credible

It pays to be honest online.

Google is continually improving its business practices to benefit authentic businesses that describe themselves accurately online.  Only show locations where you actually have a real-world presence. Make sure you are actually there when people show up during your posted business hours.  Do business respectfully, reliably and at a fair and consistent price.

Make sure that the link to your website works, that your website is fast loading and web friendly and that you are there to pick up the phone when people call.  If people ask questions to you on Google My Business or go to your website and fill out a web form – make sure you get back to them in a timely manner.

In the long run, this will lead to good reviews from the public and higher rankings for your keywords from Google and other search providers.

Manage Your Reputation

Ask your favorite customers to leave you nice reviews.

Google allows anyone to post a review of your business.  They are invited to use up to five stars to rank their interaction with your business and enter their extensive comments about you. The best businesses soon get plenty of five-star reviews with positive comments to match but even the best-intentioned businesses run into difficult clients.    You can go on to your profile and thank customers for the kind words – and try to interact constructively with the less-than-kind ones.

However, inviting your happy customers to leave you a good testimonial on Google is the best way to keep your reviews trending positively.

Post Regularly

Google prioritizes listings that consistently show they are still doing business.  They assume you are doing well when you have a steady stream of reviews, post every few days and get regular visits from clients (google knows clients are visiting when their phone is at your location!).

See to it that your business’ profile is active and that your own contributions to the story look professional and project the best image possible.  It is worth hiring a professional copywriter, SEO manager and photographer to maintain your Google My Business along with your other social media and blog posts.

People are used to seeing great content online these days and well-lit, well-choreographed, professionally edited posts are one sign of a business that is serious about quality.

These steps are what’s going to elevate your Google My Business and make your business more well-known. With Google My Business, there is plenty you can do to make sure that you use all of the features and benefits that Google My Business offers.

Parker Lake is an Account Manager at OptFirst Internet Marketing – a Google Premier Partner.  Coming from a development agency and a corporate sales background, he has a laser-like focus on improving his clients’ bottom line.  The team of content experts, programmers, and marketing analysts at OptFirst help organizations make more money through better use of internet advertising, better websites, and better mobile apps.   

Looking to level-up your company’s internet game? Reach out to OptFirst here.

Car Dealerships AMP-up Used Car Sales

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an Internet platform that creates fluid, smooth and blazing-fast websites. Google’s automated search “bots” like AMP pages, so they often come up first. Since 2017, AMP has been universally embraced by leading news agencies such as WordPress, and social media companies like Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin. It’s also being adopted by online retailers.  Why? Because AMP makes mobile pages load faster (Google reported an average loading time of around one second). It’s also great for search engine optimization (SEO), making sites show up higher on Google listings. This is a key feature to success because better search results and faster loading pages translate to more money for companies with consumer-facing websites. Most recently, new and used car dealerships have also been cashing in on this trend.

Car dealerships are becoming the latest industry to make money with AMP’s super-fast internet technology.  Research tells us that about 56% of internet users do their car shopping on a mobile device. Consumers on smartphones are particularly sensitive to loading times, often tapping one of the first websites that show up on their search page.  If a car listings website is built with AMP technology, it scores higher in Google’s search algorithm, leading to more visibility, visits, leads, and eventually sales.

Auto industry marketers: Is your web developer an expert in the space? It’s a good idea to check if they have designed their own selection of mobile-friendly AMP site templates for car dealerships.

There is another unique feature of AMP technology that makes it a great choice for used car dealerships. AMP is designed to refresh search engines every time there is “breaking news” on media websites.   Since pre-owned car listings happen frequently, and users are always looking for the latest deals, the used car category is a good fit for AMP technology. Users get to see the latest car listings show up almost the instant they are posted by a car dealership.

Some dealerships selling new luxury cars are prohibited from listing their off-brand trade-ins on their main website due to brand guidelines they get from the manufacturer.  When the number of trade-ins gets very high, they are increasingly turning to AMP sites to give them an edge over their online competitors who are vying for the same used car buyers. Smaller used car lots can benefit too: a blazing-fast AMP site gives them the chance to steal market share from larger car dealerships that still have slow-loading websites.

Auto industry marketers: Is your web developer an expert in the space? It’s a good idea to check if they have designed their own selection of mobile-friendly AMP site templates for car dealerships.

Implementing an AMP site is fast and easy – if it is done and tested by web developers experienced in adapting the technology to your industry. The benefits of an AMP site (faster loading time, better SEO, and faster search indexing of car listings) only come when a site is well-built and professionally maintained.

OptFirst is a leader in SEO and PPC on!

If a company is not appearing on the top of Google, it’s not getting seen. Getting our clients’ businesses maximum online visibility is our specialty at Optfirst. Specifically, we put companies in front of consumers by organic, paid, and local search through SEO, SEM, and other marketing tactics. We also tell our clients how important it is to control their online reputation. One survey found that 42% of businesses monitor their online reputation daily, and businesses also experience a growth in sales from doing so. Optfirst understands the importance of showcasing strong partnerships with our clients, and Clutch has been an invaluable partner in helping us with this mission.

Clutch, a B2B market research firm based in Washington, D.C., features companies across a variety of segments and identifies industry leaders through a proprietary research methodology. They conduct unbiased, verified client reviews on behalf of the companies featured. The voice of the clients is prioritized in the evaluation, and determine how a vendor is ranked, along with a few other quantitative and qualitative factors.

Clutch releases an annual report highlighting agencies that have exhibited outstanding performance across their directory. We’ve recently been included in Clutch’s most recent press release as an industry leader in two segments. Specifically, of the 70 PPC firms in Miami featured on Clutch, Optfirst is proud to have been named #1!

Likewise, in the SEO segment, we were named # 3 on and even made the list of top 20 SEO companies on their sister website, The Manifest. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the time and diligence of our clients to provide positive feedback. We’re truly grateful to work with such great partners. Below are just a few highlights from their reviews:

“I wish I felt this good about every business I deal with.”
“Their work has exceeded expectations and provided successful, measurable results.”
“The most impressive thing about OptFirst has been the personalized customer service and their results.”
“OptFirst’s turnaround time has blown me away, and it’s one of the main reasons I’ve consistently gone back to them.”
“I’m very pleased with their performance and with what OptFirst does as an organization.”

We couldn’t be more excited to have validation from our clients that the quality of the Opfirst team has met their expectations. Search is constantly evolving, and we’re looking forward to taking on new challenges with new businesses. If you’d like to reach more in depth client feedback to feel confident that Optfirst can take your business to the next level, please visit our profile.