Why SEO and SEM are Essential to Your Digital Marketing Success

Why SEO and SEM are Essential to Your Digital Marketing Success

Digital marketing has many layers. Combining multiple strategies can help small businesses put more muscle behind their marketing efforts — and ultimately drive revenue. A robust plan typically includes digital ads, web content, video content, social media, email and more. That’s where SEO and SEM come into play. When done right, they can help round out your overall digital marketing plan in a big way.

Search engines can be a powerful way to connect with your target demographic. You just have to know how to work with them. BrandMinded is an SEO and SEM firm Tampa can trust. We’ve been at this a long time and rely on data-driven solutions in all we do. Let’s unpack why SEO and SEM are essential to your digital marketing success.

What is SEO?

“Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of improving your content and your website to boost your ranking, specifically on Google,” says Matthew Hall, Senior SEO/SEM Specialist at BrandMinded.

To get to the top of Google search results, businesses need to create content that helps searchers find what they’re looking for and have a positive search experience. This is the heart of Google’s recent helpful content update. It’s designed to prioritize people-first content — and devalue clickbait and unhelpful content.

“When we’re talking about SEO, we’re talking about making sure that the content and the website are up to par with Google standards so that it will rank higher,” says Hall. “By default, that usually helps the ranking on other platforms as well because other platforms, like Yahoo and Bing, largely model their algorithms off of the Google algorithm.”

What does SEO look like in practice? Instead of trying to manipulate your content and your Google ranking, SEO involves optimizing your website and blog posts so that they’re:

  • Authentic and reflect the voice of the brand
  • Original (not published elsewhere online)
  • Helpful to your audience and tailored to their needs

What is SEM?

Advertising is a huge revenue source for Google. In 2021, the search giant brought in over $209 billion dollars in ad revenue. After typing in a search query, you’ve probably noticed advertised search results that pop up at the top of the results page.

“Depending on which search query you’re looking at now, someone could have the organic rank as number one, but you don’t even see them at the top of the page,” says Hall. “You actually have to scroll down to even get to them because there are ads on top of it.”

SEM, which stands for search engine marketing, leverages search result ads to your advantage. Google ads can also appear within the shopping tab, on Google Maps, or on Google search partner websites.

How SEO and SEM Work Together in Digital Marketing

While SEO is extremely important to improving your search ranking and getting organic traffic, SEM is equally valuable. The two work hand in hand. Hall says the goal is to strengthen SEO to the point where you can eventually decrease your advertising spend.

“The truth is that if anyone wants to get business immediately, they have to spend money on ads if they want any sort of rank or visibility on Google,” he says. “A lot of people want to be first organically, but that’s a lot longer of a strategy, especially to do it properly.”

The Google Ads platform can get you moving in the right direction in terms of generating leads. Consider it part of your overarching digital marketing plan. One side of the coin is growing your organic ranking — the other is SEM. With SEM, we can turn on the faucet tomorrow and get that traffic flowing while you build out your SEO strategy.

“As an agency, we have employees who are dedicated to analyzing the data we receive on a regular basis,” says Hall. “We are always checking campaigns. Without the right guidance, you could easily spend $1,000 in a day and get nothing for it if there’s even a small error in your configuration. There are lots of nuances, and BrandMinded understands them.”

Ready to take your digital marketing plan to the next level? Contact us today to get started.

Digital Marketing Tips that Can Double Results

Digital Marketing Tips that Can Double Results

With a fresh year ahead of us, small business owners are looking for ways to elevate their marketing game. Hitting your revenue goals is all about increasing brand awareness and generating new leads — and, of course, serving your customers well. Digital marketing is a powerful way to reach both potential and existing clients, but there are many ways to go about it (some more effective than others). We’re kicking off the year by rounding up the best marketing strategies for 2023.

Video Marketing

​​“Video is just becoming so much more important, especially with the rising use of reels,” says Matthew Hall, Senior SEO/SEM Specialist at BrandMinded. “We’re going to be focusing on producing more video content for social media for our clients this year.”

Considering that 20% of all Instagram activity takes place on reels, it is critical to drive exposure so we can maximize our client’s reach potential. It’s no secret that short-form video is taking over social media, so in order to get in on the action we need to stay knowledgeable about the ever so changing algorithms of platforms such as Instagram.

“We’re seeing a lot of video content for sure, especially short-form video,” says Alyssa Drum, Digital Account Coordinator at BrandMinded. “With the rise of Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, a lot of platforms are trying to get in on that. We have such a small window to capture our viewers’ attention right now.”

She suggests creating two versions of a video when working on any campaign; a 15- to 45-second one for social media, and a longer version for the brand’s YouTube channel or website.
Hall adds that Hulu is another platform worth exploring. “In the past, you’d need to have a media buying agency handle that, but now Hulu has opened it up to marketing agencies like us,” he says. “That’s something we’re exploring a lot as well because we think there’s a lot of value there.”


Digital marketing is continuing to evolve and change. What worked a couple of years ago isn’t necessarily resonating with audiences anymore, especially on social media.

“Authenticity is big,” says Drum. “In the photos we post, people want to see things that are organic-looking and natural, as opposed to a graphic style.”

In other words, social media users will likely scroll past a generic, static image. Instead, the focus right now is on storytelling, connection, and a sense of realness. In 2023, Drum plans to leverage social media takeovers to capture user attention. This is often an employee or someone relevant to the brand “taking over” the company’s social media channels. The result is a more face-to-face feel. It’s similar to doing a “Team Tuesday” on social media. This allows users to get to know a company, which helps humanize the brand.

“We usually get more engagement with those kinds of posts,” says Drum.

Partnering with Nano-Influencers

You might think that teaming up with a big social media star would be a great marketing strategy, but it can be hard to persuade these folks to work with small businesses. Drum says there’s another approach that’s proving to be very effective.

“Nano-influencers are becoming a big thing,” she says. “We’re moving away from big, A-list celebrities partnering with brands and going more toward social media users who have only a couple thousand followers.”

These influencers still have substantial reach, and they may be more likely to believe in your brand’s values. Drum says it’s a great way to promote a genuine feel and earn the trust of social media users.

Strategic Content Marketing

Google rewards helpful content. This is content that puts people first, instead of trending keywords. Brands that are focused on gaming search engine results could be penalized by Google and actually worsen their ranking. Strong content:

  •  Is well written and authentic (not generic)
  •  Is relevant to your target demographic
  • Helps web visitors get information or solve a problem
  • Establishes a sense of trust with the reader
  • Demonstrates your brand’s values

When it comes to the best marketing strategies for 2023, BrandMinded understands that every small business is different. The strongest approach for your brand will depend on your goals, target demographic, and brand identity. We’re here to help you figure out what it all means — and create a game plan that works for you. Contact us today to get started.

Guide: Transitioning to Google Analytics 4

Guide: Transitioning to Google Analytics 4

No matter what your business looks like, digital marketing is key — and data analytics is a huge part of that. Without it, you’re essentially flying blind. Tracking customer data allows you to better understand their journey so you can give them what they’re looking for. It goes beyond just capturing new business. You’re also serving your existing customer base with an eye on retention.
Reliable data is your foundation. Google Analytics has long been the go-to source for customer data, but the platform recently got a facelift. GA4 is the latest iteration of Google Analytics. The new changes make it easier for business owners to be more intentional with their marketing efforts. You may be intimidated to make the switch, but the data-driven insights are tough to beat. Here’s how it works.

What is Google Analytics 4?

Google’s Universal Analytics, which is what many business owners are used to, is largely focused on page views. That was once the mega-metric that marketing teams focused on, but times have changed. It’s become less about views and more about how web visitors are engaging with your website. These days, traffic alone just doesn’t tell us enough about the customer journey.
The new GA4 provides a more comprehensive view so you can see exactly how users are interacting with your site. The same goes for your app, if you have one. That’s a big step up from Universal Analytics. Mobile commerce has seen tremendous growth in recent years. By 2025, over 10% of retail transactions are expected to occur through mobile, according to eMarketer.
GA4 provides more thorough insights and reports based on visitor interactions. That includes when (and how long) they interacted with different parts of your app or website. It also uses AI technology to make predictions. This allows business owners to create hyper-targeted marketing campaigns based on real data.

Benefits of Switching to GA4

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the new Google Analytics. Below is a snapshot of some of its unique capabilities:

  • Provides powerful metrics that meet today’s demands:

Universal Analytics focuses largely on independent sessions and desktop web usage — but that doesn’t reflect how most people use the web today. GA4 uses event-based data that provides a clearer view of how users are interacting with your website and app. You can see engaged sessions, along with engagement rates and times. You can also generate deep-dive reports that go beyond session reporting.

  • Works hand in hand with Google Ads:

GA4 integrates smoothly with Google Ads. That means you can use insights from Google Analytics to inform and optimize your ad campaigns. Consider it one more resource for your SEO and SEM goals.

  • Unlocks predictive insights:

Thanks to machine learning, GA4 offers up predictive insights on user behavior, conversions, potential new audiences and more. That includes suggestions for leveling up your marketing efforts.
With that said, GA4 may still feel like a big change: The interface, dashboard and reports operate differently than Universal Analytics. Getting the hang of it might take some time, but the in-depth insights are worth it.

How to Install GA4

Google’s Setup Assistant makes it pretty easy. Here are step-by-step instructions for installing Google Analytics 4:

  • Login to Google Analytics and click “Admin”
  • Double check that you’re in the correct account and property
  • Click “Setup Assistant”
  • Follow prompts to create a new GA4 property

What We Can Expect Looking Forward

Universal Analytics has an expiration date. As of July 1, 2023, it will stop processing data. Making the switch to GA4 before then will give you time to learn the platform and start reaping the benefits. It can be a lot to digest, but BrandMinded is here to make the journey a little easier. Connect with us today for more data-driven marketing solutions for your business.

Google Helpful Content Update — Is Your Content Helpful?

Google Helpful Content Update — Is Your Content Helpful?

Google made a splash a couple months back when it announced its helpful content update. It has officially rolled out and is meant to prioritize people-first content, while devaluing clickbait and unhelpful content that’s just trying to catch traffic. It’s part of a broader Google initiative to improve the search experience. Here’s how it works and how it could affect your content marketing strategies.

What is the Google Helpful Content Update?

The name sums it up well. Google officially unveiled the helpful content update back in August as part of a larger goal to weed out unoriginal, unhelpful content from search results. That includes web copy churned out by artificial intelligence (AI) and content farms. It’s designed to reward content that leaves visitors feeling satisfied. On the other end of the spectrum, content that doesn’t hit that mark won’t perform well.

At first glance, that may sound a little subjective — who’s to say what’s helpful and what’s not? Google further clarified by offering these two points of advice:

1. Put People First

The idea is to create satisfying content while sticking to SEO best practices. Google encourages marketers to put their existing or intended audience for their business at the center of all their content. When writing new content, ask yourself if they’d find it useful. Also, does it prove that you’re knowledgeable on the topic that’s being covered?

If you’re a medical provider, for example, your content should be geared toward patients who are in your key demographic. It should be well researched, relevant to the searcher, and effective in answering a specific question or solving a problem. In other words, they should leave your site feeling like they got what they needed.

2. Don’t Create Content Solely for Search Engines

You don’t have to abandon SEO best practices. On the contrary, it’s about using them to better serve your audience. Instead of creating content with the sole purpose of snagging a top Google ranking, it’s about producing focused content around a specific topic. To put it another way, honor your audience and stick to your niche.

Search-engine content is impersonal and casts a wide net. It builds articles and blog posts off trending search results — not what your audience necessarily wants or needs. This kind of content usually feels thin. It doesn’t demonstrate a depth of knowledge or leave the reader feeling satisfied.

Is the Helpful Content Update Changing the Way Content Ranks?

It’s too early to know for sure since the Google helpful content update just made its debut. With that said, it doesn’t seem to be causing any major changes yet. Folks at Google say the update is part of a continuing effort to improve the search experience. If you’re already producing strong content, you should be good. Time will tell how the update will affect unhelpful content in the long term.

Original, Helpful Content is Always Best

The Google helpful content update drives home something we already knew — original, valuable content that puts the reader first is always the best way to go. At BrandMinded, we believe it’s the only way to go. Your content won’t do you much good if it’s generic and shallow. Think like your target audience and ask yourself if you’re providing something of value. If not, it’s essentially useless.

Good content does two things: It serves the reader while also establishing a sense of trust. When you continually demonstrate that you know your stuff and can offer helpful solutions, you’re proving that you’re a trusted voice in your industry. That relationship can eventually blossom into brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Get to Know our Senior SEO Specialist, Matt

Get to Know our Senior SEO Specialist, Matt

Wishing the happiest of birthdays to our incredible SEO Specialist, Matt! Get to know him inside the marketing world and out from his answers below.

What do you love most about working for BrandMinded?

I love being able to solve problems for our clients and help to increase their ROI while also improving their business. Seeing the success of our clients is what really drives me to keep pushing forward. I also love that I am able to work on a variety of different projects here from Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, to Marketing Automation, Advanced IT Configurations, and even some web development applications.

What’s your favorite aspect of working in the marketing world?

I love seeing our clients succeed. Being able to show the data and proof of the work that we have produced while knowing that our clients are continuously having their best months ever really excites me.

What’s a passion you have that people might not know about you?

Snowboarding is my favorite thing to do (even though I live in Florida 🙂 ). I love riding my bike, playing Niantic games and organizing global strategy in the game Ingress.

Matt Hall Snowboarding
Matt snowboarding with friends in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

What does your ideal weekend in Tampa Bay look like?

A typical weekend consists of taking my son to Soccer on saturday, maybe getting some lunch afterwards, some work around the house and maybe a bike ride. Currently during the fall, Sunday’s are mostly reserved for Football!

What’s a project/accomplishment you’re proud of?

As a whole, I’m incredibly proud of the way my team comes together to create quality, thoughtful projects and campaigns that produce results for our clients! We’re small, but we sure are a mighty team! From launching a whole new brand to designing and developing a new website from scratch, my team always comes together for a challenge and delivers exceptional work! I couldn’t ask for a better team – the best years are yet to come!

What’s your favorite type of cake/treat to have on your birthday?

Dessert’s have never been my favorite, but if I had to pick, I would go for some variation on Bread Pudding!

Thank you for helping maximize our clients success and making our team better each and every day, we’ve got the best SEO Specialist around!

Get to Know our Digital Director, Meagan

Get to Know our Digital Director, Meagan

Today we celebrate the birthday of our Digital Director, Meagan! Behind the desk, Meagan leads the charge on our daily operations, manages client relationships, and inspires our team to be creative and collaborative each day. But beyond that, let’s get to know Meagan by hearing all about her passions, projects, and even birthday cake preferences!

What do you love most about working for BrandMinded?

BrandMinded is like no other digital agency in Tampa Bay. We have a unique blend of talents and backgrounds that can do anything and everything with excellence. We are transparent about what we do and I think that is what drives us to be successful. Our clients have insights into every effort we do on a digital level. We pride ourselves on maintaining communicative relationships with our clients and we always produce better work each and every day. BrandMinded is the best place I’ve ever worked and I’m so grateful to be a part of it!

What’s your favorite aspect of working in the marketing world?

There are several favorite aspects of working in the marketing world where we can put our communication skills, storytelling, creativity, and analytical abilities to good use. The marketing world is ever-changing and constantly growing, providing us marketers with endless opportunities to learn new and exciting techniques and strategies for promoting brands. We are data-driven and use results to help us make strategic decisions. We get to work as a team and collaborate on well-thought out campaigns and content strategies. We learn from our successes (and mistakes), and develop professionally as we constantly sharpen our skills day in and day out. We get to share our client’s stories and help them deliver their mission and purpose to the digital world. We are true problem solvers and get to tap into our creative minds to come up with new ideas and innovative ways of solving challenges. There is no limit to what we can do in today’s marketing world.

What’s a passion you have that people might not know about you?

Dancing. I have been a dancer since I was three-years old, and still to this day get some much joy and satisfaction from performing. One fun fact: I used to dance professionally with a Hip Hop crew in Arizona called Foot Klan. Our mission was to unify communities through street dance and creative arts. We’ve opened and promoted for a variety of major brands and products in Phoenix including Ducati, Alice Cooper, the Phoenix Suns, The Arizona Lottery, and Lady Gaga.

Arizona hip-hop crew - Foot Klan
The Foot Klan Dance Troupe Performing at the Powerhouse Concert in Phoenix, Arizona.

What does your ideal weekend in Tampa Bay look like?

Kicking off my ideal weekend would start with a Friday evening bike ride or stroll along the Tampa Riverwalk while listening to some good tunes and catching that gorgeous sunset across the bay. I always start my Saturday mornings with teaching Zumba at the Harbour Island Athletic Club, where I get to inspire so many people by staying healthy and fit with dance! From there, I’d enjoy time with friends and anything outdoors such as going to the beach at Anna Maria Island or kayaking in one of Florida’s crystal clear waterways.

Meagan Floco Zumba Tampa
Meagan teaching Zumba Fitness in Downtown Tampa at Zumba in the Park and at the Harbour Island Athletic Club.
Kayaking in Tampa Bay
Kayaking in the Tampa Bay.

What’s a project/accomplishment you’re proud of?

As a whole, I’m incredibly proud of the way my team comes together to create quality, thoughtful projects and campaigns that produce results for our clients! We’re small, but we sure are a mighty team! From launching a whole new brand to designing and developing a new website from scratch, my team always comes together for a challenge and delivers exceptional work! I couldn’t ask for a better team – the best years are yet to come!

BrandMinded Team
The BrandMinded Leadership Crew – excluding Meagan.

What’s your favorite type of cake/treat to have on your birthday?

Since I’ve heard the rumor that calories don’t count on your birthday…my favorite birthday cake is a white cake or white chocolate cake. Nothing keeps the party going like a Funfetti cake!

Happy birthday, Meagan! Thank you for all you do for BrandMinded.