Demystifying Marketing Jargon: Understanding the Significance of SEO

You’ve probably encountered the term “SEO” in digital marketing numerous times. It’s one of those buzzwords that get thrown around a lot, but what does it mean, and why is it so crucial in a business setting? In this blog post, we’ll demystify SEO, shedding light on its importance and exploring the potential consequences of neglecting it in your business practices.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. At its core, SEO is the practice of organically enhancing your website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s about ensuring your website ranks as high as possible when people search for relevant keywords or phrases on search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Why is SEO Important for Businesses?

  1. Increased Visibility: Businesses primarily invest in SEO to improve their online visibility. When your website appears at the top of search results for keywords related to your products or services, it’s more likely that potential customers will find and visit your site.
  2. Traffic Growth: Higher visibility leads to increased website traffic. And more traffic means more opportunities to convert visitors into paying customers, subscribers, or leads.
  3. Credibility and Trust: Websites that rank highly in search results are often perceived as more credible and trustworthy by users. People trust Google’s recommendations so a top-ranking spot can boost your brand’s credibility.
  4. Cost-Effective Marketing: SEO can be a cost-effective long-term strategy compared to traditional advertising. While it requires an initial investment, it can lead to sustained traffic and conversions without the ongoing expenses associated with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
  5. Competitive Advantage: In today’s competitive online landscape, your competitors are likely investing in SEO. By doing so, you can also level the playing field or even gain an edge over them.

Consequences of Neglecting SEO

Now that we’ve established why SEO is important let’s discuss what can happen if it’s not part of your business practices:

  1. Low Visibility: Without SEO, your website may remain buried in search engine results. This means potential customers are unlikely to find you when they search for products or services you offer, resulting in missed opportunities.
  2. Loss of Customers: A lack of SEO can lead to declining website traffic, meaning fewer customers. Your competitors who invest in SEO will capture a larger market share.
  3. Wasted Marketing Budget: If you’re relying solely on paid advertising and not optimizing your website for organic search, you may spend a significant portion of your marketing budget on ads without reaping the long-term benefits that SEO can provide.
  4. Inconsistent Branding: SEO is not just about keywords and rankings; it’s also about creating valuable, relevant, and high-quality content. Neglecting SEO means missing opportunities to strengthen your brand’s online presence and reputation.
  5. Difficulty in Recovery: If you ignore SEO for an extended period, it can be challenging to catch up with competitors who have consistently invested in it. SEO is an ongoing process; playing catch-up can be time-consuming and expensive.

In conclusion, SEO is not just marketing jargon; it’s a fundamental aspect of digital marketing that can significantly impact your business’s success. By understanding its importance and the potential consequences of neglecting it, you can make informed decisions about incorporating SEO into your business practices. In today’s online-driven world, SEO is not an option; it’s necessary for any business looking to thrive in the digital landscape.

 

by Art Intelligenza

 

The Pitfalls of Wearing Open-Toed Shoes to a Zoom Job Interview

by Art Intelligenza

With a flair for the dramatic, please welcome smartdept.’s newest social media contributor, Art Intelligenza. Art will join us occasionally to give his unique perspective on all amazing employment-related topics. His first assignment – the open-toed shoe dilemma.

 

In the era of remote work and virtual interactions, professional and casual attire boundaries have become increasingly blurred. While the convenience of video interviews on platforms like Zoom has revolutionized the job application process, it’s important to remember that first impressions still matter. One often overlooked aspect of appearance in a virtual job interview is footwear. Specifically, wearing open-toed shoes can inadvertently send the wrong message and negatively impact how a hiring manager perceives you.

The Message of Casualness

Open-toed shoes are often associated with warm weather and leisurely activities. They can be comfortable and stylish choices for relaxed social gatherings or outings. However, wearing them to a job interview, even a virtual one, can convey a sense of casualness and lack of seriousness. In a professional setting, footwear is integral to one’s overall appearance, contributing to the impression of professionalism and attention to detail. Opting for open-toed shoes might suggest to the hiring manager that you didn’t put in the effort to present yourself in a polished and formal manner.

Hiring Manager’s Reaction

A hiring manager’s perception of your footwear choice can influence their overall impression of you as a candidate. While it might seem like a small detail, it can reveal your approach to professionalism and your understanding of appropriate dress codes. A hiring manager could interpret open-toed shoes as a need for understanding the importance of dressing appropriately for the interview, potentially signaling that you might not take the job seriously or may not be an excellent cultural fit for the company. This could inadvertently cast a shadow over your qualifications and expertise, overshadowing the valuable skills you bring to the table.

Advantages of Open-Toed Shoes

While open-toed shoes might not be the ideal choice for a virtual job interview, there are some scenarios where they could work to your advantage. In industries with a more relaxed dress code, such as creative fields or startups, wearing open-toed shoes could align with the company culture and show that you understand and respect the company’s values. Additionally, open-toed shoes might be more acceptable if the position involves working in a warm climate or in roles where comfort and movement are essential.

Navigating the Shoe Dilemma

When preparing for a virtual job interview, it’s best to err on the side of caution and opt for closed-toe, professional footwear. This choice conveys that you take the interview seriously and understand professional dress codes strongly. Classic black or brown closed-toe shoes are safe choices that won’t distract the hiring manager from your qualifications and experience.

In conclusion, the pitfalls of wearing open-toed shoes to a Zoom job interview are rooted in the potential message of casualness they convey. While they might be comfortable and stylish, their presence can inadvertently weaken the overall impression you make on a hiring manager. To ensure that you project professionalism and attention to detail, choosing closed-toe shoes that align with the traditional interview attire expectations is best. Remember, in virtual interactions, every element of your appearance matters, and by carefully considering your attire, you can increase your chances of making a positive and lasting impression.

Nice work, Arthur! Way to expose the potentially dark underside of the Zoom interview. Hiring managers beware!

Allyship in the Workplace

June is pride month, a time for LGBTQ+ individuals to celebrate who they are and who they love as well as a time to remember the progress of the gay rights movement and consider what still lies ahead in the move towards equality. Even when it is not June, our LGBTQ+ coworkers should feel comfortable being themselves in the office year-round. In 2019, 46% of LGBTQ+ people reported hiding who they are at work for fear of making others uncomfortable or being stereotyped, among other reasons. For this pride month, consider if you are a good ally at work.

An ally is someone who is not a member of a marginalized group, but makes a conscious effort to support, understand, and stand up for those who are. There are several things you can do to improve allyship and inclusivity in your workplace.

1. Educate yourself

One of the most essential parts of being an ally is educating yourself about the experiences of LGBTQ+ people. There may be terms, pronouns, history, policies, and systemic discrimination you are unaware of. The Human Rights Campaign has a great online resource for those who want to become better allies. You become a better supporter and advocate when you are educated and aware.

2. Acknowledge your own biases

Bias is a part of human nature, but we cause less harm to others when we are aware of our implicit biases and actively resist them. One way to do this is to reflect on what prejudices and stereotypes you may be unconsciously harboring or even acting on. Consider what assumptions you are making about others and why, then work to unlearn them through education and mindfulness.

3. Show your support

Speaking of assumptions, we should not assume our coworkers’ pronouns or sexualities. It can put someone in an uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous position where they need to decide between correcting you or letting it slide and hiding who they are. Gender-neutral language can be a powerful tool in creating an inclusive work environment. Gendered salutations like “good morning ladies and gentlemen” exclude any nonbinary members of the group and are easy to replace with neutral phrases like “good morning everyone/team”. You should also avoid assuming someone has a husband/boyfriend or wife/girlfriend and use more inclusive terms like “partner”, “spouse”, or “significant other” if you do not know. If you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, use they/them until you do know their correct pronouns. Another simple thing you can do to show you are an ally is to add your pronouns to your email sign-off. Doing this normalizes pronoun inclusion and shows your coworkers that you respect and honor pronouns.

4. Acknowledge your privilege and use it for good

Being cisgender or heterosexual comes with privileges as you fall within what society considers “the norm”. A good ally is aware of their privilege and acknowledges that it provides them with a platform that others may not have access to. There may be situations where it is unsafe or uncomfortable for LGBTQ+ employees to call someone out at work or speak up. Do not be a passive bystander if you witness discriminatory or homophobic behavior at work, and use your platform to stand up for your LGBTQ+ coworkers. Take action, be an active listener, vote thoughtfully on policies that affect equality, and educate others when given the opportunity.

These are just a few measures among many you can take to improve allyship in your workplace. For many of us, work is where we spend most of our time, and we need to make sure our LGBTQ+ colleagues feel not just safe, but welcome and celebrated.

– Morgan Gorecki, Senior Creative Account Manager at smartdept.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Hey! It’s Women’s History Month. And seeing as we are a Women’s Business Enterprise, certified by the WBENC, we thought it would be cool to ask a few of our Smarties to share their thoughts on women of historic significance that have been inspirational for them.

Amber Rowher, Creative Account Manager at smartdept. says, “The first person that comes to mind is Dolly Parton. Aside from being an incredible artist who has found success across several music genres, she has always challenged societal norms of being a woman. To this day, she continues to speak out and support LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter. I think it is because of women like her that others today are given more opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

What? Are you not familiar with Dolly Rebecca Parton? Well, here’s a bit more. Dolly is an American singer-songwriter, actress, philanthropist, and businesswoman known primarily for her decades-long career in country music. Dolly’s career has spanned over fifty years; Parton has been described as a “country music legend” and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Okay, she’s got talent. But did you know that she also co-owns The Dollywood Company, which manages the Dollywood theme park, the Splash Country water park, and a variety of dinner theatre venues? Additionally, she has founded several charitable and philanthropic organizations, including the Dollywood Foundation, which manages several projects to bring education and poverty relief to East Tennessee, where she grew up.

Honestly, Dolly is excellent! Her philanthropic efforts are too many even to list. But here is something worthy of attention. In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Parton donated $1 million towards research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and encouraged those who can afford it to make similar donations. What would Dolly do (WWDD)? Now you know!

Rob Leinheiser, Creative Account Manager at smartdept. says, “As a theater lover, Aphra Behn is a trailblazer with a special place in my heart. Her plays are rich and epic, in the same style as Shakespeare and her Restoration contemporaries. Her greatest work, The Rover, is still widely performed today.”

Aphra Behn was born on December 14th, 1640. Yup! I had to bust out Peabody’s Way Back Machine for this one. But Aphra Behn’s contributions are substantial! And think of all the travel miles I accumulated during my research. An English playwright, poet, prose writer, and translator from the Restoration era, Aphra was one of the first English women to earn a living from her writing. As a result, she broke cultural barriers and served as a literary role model for later generations of women authors.

Aphra was one bad 17th Century lady, and her rise from obscurity caught the attention of Charles II, who employed her as a spy. Upon her return to London, she began writing for the stage. She ran with a coterie of poets and famous libertines and wrote under the pseudonym Astrea. Following her death, new female dramatists acknowledged Behn as a vital predecessor who opened public space for women writers. In 1915, a six-volume collection of her work was republished, and since the 1970s, Behn’s literary works have been praised by feminist critics and writers. As a result, Behn was rediscovered as a significant female writer.

She is remembered in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own: “All women together, ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn… for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds… Behn proved that money could be made by writing at the sacrifice of certain agreeable qualities. By degrees, writing became not merely a sign of folly and a distracted mind but was of practical importance.

She died on April 16th, 1689, and was buried in the East Cloister of Westminster Abbey (hands down Joey Tibbiani’s favorite Abbey).

Sarah Zachary, Creative Account Manager at smartdept. says, “I think of RBG. She was insanely successful in her career, serving as a trailblazer in the US Supreme Court. She spent most, if not her entire, career advocating for gender equality and women’s rights and has been inspiring to so many women who want to make a difference in our country today.”

Yaazzz! Sarah knocks it out of the park with her choice of Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until she died in 2020. Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the Court after Sandra Day O’Connor. President Bill Clinton nominated her for The Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by retiring Justice Byron White.

Ginsburg spent much of her legal career advocating for gender equality and women’s rights, winning many arguments before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsel. I could break the internet listing how RBG has contributed to reshaping our society. She authored significant opinions or is credited with influencing colleagues on gender discrimination, abortion rights, search and seizure, international law, voting rights and affirmative action, and Native Americans.

As a result of her actions, RBG has received more than 30 honorary degrees (not too shabby) and has been recognized as an inductee in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, named one of the 100 most powerful women in 2009, and was named one of Time Magazines’ 100 most influential people in 2015.

Thanks for peaking at some women who have inspired us here at smartdept. We encourage you to celebrate Women’s History Month with us by taking a minute to think about women (other than your Mom) who have inspired you.

Dolly Parton photo by: Eva Rinaldi
Aphra Behn image from: Ann Longmore-Etheridge
Ruth Bader Ginsburg photo from LBJ Library

Finding Your Niche

While having a general skill set to draw on is substantial, finding your niche in any field is crucial to securing unique opportunities and growing your professional network. Being an expert in one discipline opens doors to opportunities you might not have considered. Creating a reputation for your specialized skill set will help other professionals recognize your talents by word of mouth. When thinking about your career path, it’s essential to keep in mind what you want to be known for. Are you a graphic designer with a well-rounded portfolio? That’s great! But hiring managers want candidates that are not only versatile but also specialized. There’s no doubt you have the skills to excel in that Presentation Designer job you just applied for – but how will you stack up against another designer who has found their niche in presentation design?

Here are some tips for finding your niche and refining your expertise over your career.

Focus on your strengths

Think about your professional experience so far – what have you excelled at? Are you a responsive and clear communicator? A leader with the insight needed to manage others. An organizational wizard who can wrangle an excel spreadsheet like no one else. Knowing what you’re good at is the first step to finding what you should be known for being good at. If you’re unsure, ask your co-workers or former supervisors to weigh in – sometimes, it’s hard to see where our strengths lie!

Just because you’re good at it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be challenging!

It can be easy to settle into our regular responsibilities, especially if we’re good at them. But clocking in and running through the motions daily will leave you in the dust. Innovations mean jobs are constantly changing and pushing you out of your comfort zone is essential to ensure you are staying competitive in your field. Take every opportunity to try something new; you might find a new skill you possessed all along. Use these opportunities to keep learning and growing, and soon enough, you will be taking on challenges others wouldn’t know where to begin with.

It’s never too late for a change

Maybe what you’ve been doing so far doesn’t light that fire in you anymore- that’s okay! We are constantly changing as humans, and sometimes we need an external change to keep up with our development. It’s never too late to try something new, and with many online resources, it’s easier than ever to change specialties or fields. Try taking that UX course you saw an ad for, or maybe watch some videos on digital marketing trends. Don’t be afraid to explore your interests because your niche will reflect what you’re most passionate about. Once clients and employers see that passion, they’ll know they can trust you with their vision and feel confident that they are in the hands of an expert.

By Rob Leinheiser, smartdept. Talent Acquisition Specialist

Pronouns: More Than Just Grammar

International Pronouns Day takes place every year on the 3rd Wednesday of October. This year Pronouns Day is October 19th. International Pronouns Day takes place each year with a straightforward goal; to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. That’s amazing beca