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Central Mass SEO & Online Marketing Agency

by TJ Kelly Published Nov 4, 2016 · Last updated Apr 30, 2018 1,218 View

Central MA SEO & Web Marketing.I admit it: I want to be the Central MA SEO expert. I want my company to be the go-to web marketing specialists for all Westminster-area local businesses.

I live in Ashburnham. I’m raising my kids here and I hope to retire here. I love this area.

So it’s both selfishly and selflessly that I take aim at becoming the go-to for web marketing in Central MA: it would obviously benefit my business to gain so many local clients.

But it would also benefit my fellow Ash/West/Fitch/Leominster/Gardner residents, helping the local business communities continue to thrive.

Amherst, MA SEO Projects

Amherst, MA SEO Marketing Projects.

We’ve actually had 3 Amherst SEO clients over the years. In fact, one of these projects got its start as web design project in 2003—before what could be described as “SEO” even existed!

Here are our proud Amherst, MA projects:

These three Amherst, MA SEO projects include a website and ecommerce solutions for several music groups and a leadership education company, all based in Amherst, MA.

Amherst SEO by Mxt Media: Drum Major Academy — after.

Drum Major Academy

Amherst, MA 01002

DMA runs a series of summer camps for high school and college aged musicians, specifically marching band students.

They operate 14 locations around the US between June and September every year—and have been since 1978. The flagship location for the camp is at UMass Amherst, a proud gem of west-Central MA.

SEO & marketing for DMA @ UMass Amherst & beyond

This client’s workshops are 5 days long and students a live on college campuses during their stay, many for their first time experiencing a slice of college. It’s a tough sell in a fairly competitive niche. SEO is only one of the avenues that DMA uses to keep their Amherst and other US college workshops full.

Here’s how this Amherst, MA-based company’s SEO project looks.

 

Amherst SEO by Mxt Media: Drum Major Academy — before.

Drum Major Academy…before

1. Website rebrand

A new site entirely. Total 180. The old website was plain HTML, built by hand. Lightning-fast load times but a nightmare to keep current. We converted the site to WordPress and gave it a major overhaul.

Redesigns don’t always help SEO, of course. But as Google places more and more weight on user experience signals, the smooth, UX-friendly design of a website matters more and more.

Plus, SEO isn’t a goal unto itself, of course. The big picture here is sales. Any any good marketing professional will tell you that looks matter! So the redesign is in. Looks better, right? Their customers think so too—in Amherst and beyond.

 

Amherst SEO by Mxt Media: Drum Major Academy — Email example #1: Brian Dean.

Brian Dean of Backlinko has the personal email marketing method perfected.

2. Email marketing campaign

But not your typical Constant Contact junk. DMA has a unique niche. They advertise to teachers — to convince parents — to send their kids. Obviously the kids have to attracted and convinced too. But much of the outreach for attracting customers starts with the kids’ teachers.

So their email marketing strategy centers around high school music teachers in the US—all of them. What started as a USPS mail marketing campaign is migrating to be all-digital.

But, like all email marketing, they struggle with the challenge of cutting through the noise. How can they provide signal—in their case, actual educational value—to these music teachers and band directors, all from their main office in Amherst, MA?

Simple: talk to people. Too many emails are the same [email protected] junk. They’ve full of table-layouts from 1996 and no one reads them. So we’re taking a page out of the Backlinko and other SEO-star playbook: personal marketing emails. Not personalized (Greetings, {@FNAME}!), but personal. They come from a person. And they feel like it.

 

Amherst SEO by Mxt Media: Drum Major Academy - Social Media.

Facebook video ad.

3. Social media blitz

Social media is about being social. How many times have you seen some boring company’s boring Facebook page with 100 likes and no activity at all? It’s the worst. But it’s totally understandable.

Here’s why: People don’t care about companies. People care about themselves. Therefore, people won’t come to you because of who you are. They will come to you (and your Facebook page) because of what you give them.

Sidenote: I’m a big believer in Simon Sinek’s Start with Why philosophy, but I wonder whether it has a front-row seat in social media.

So what do you give people in order to make your social media marketing strategies effective?Friendship. It sounds crazy, but if you represent your brand with a real, living breathing human, and interact with people on a human-to-human level, the results will be mind-blowing.

Share your stuff, sure. But that’s like 10% of your activity. The other 90% is interacting with other people—being friends with them. Like, share, and comment on their stuff. Make jokes. Follow up. Be a real person.

Amherst SEO Project: UMass Band Parents Association, by Mxt Media.

UMass Band Parents Association

George N. Parks Building
110 Grinnell Way
Amherst, MA 01003

The UMass Band Parents Association is our second SEO client from Amherst. This one is loosely affiliated with UMass Amherst.

They’re a parents/booster/fan group, which follows and supports the UMass Minuteman Marching Band. We’ve been working pro-bono for them on an ongoing UX/SEO effort since 2013.

Amherst SEO Project: UMass Band Parents Association - Media.

SEO & UX for UMBPA in Amherst, MA

Like several of our other Central MA SEO projects, this one started as a design and development project and grew into a full-scale digital marketing and branding initiative. Here’s what this Amherst SEO effort includes.

This website began as a hobby or side-project by a dedicated parent, fan, and supporter of the UMass Amherst organization.

Part photographer, part techie, this parent took it upon himself to start a fan website for fans—a place where parents, students, and supporters could go to see photos of the ensemble they know and love.

At the time, this was groundbreaking. The website started in 2001.

Everything was hand-coded at the time, including hundreds of photos that were edited and resized one at a time, reordered and renamed one at a time, and manually inserted into an HTML table one at a time—incredibly tedious work.

Amherst SEO Project: UMass Band Parents Association - Ecommerce.

Organic content & UX development

When we took over this website and launched into our second Amherst SEO project, we completely redesigned and redeveloped it.

At the time (2013), we believed it would be better to maintain the photographer’s workflow of using FTP to upload files remotely. That turned out to be a mistake, but it worked well enough for a few years.

In order to support that workflow, we had to use a file-based system for both managing and displaying photos (as opposed to a database-driven Content Management System).

Therefore, we built the entire website in hard-coded PHP and HTML files. The website loaded lightning fast, and worked beautifully on mobile—both hugely important for SEO—and this was only our second Responsive Web Design project ever.

But after a few years of updating PHP/HTML files by hand each week the marching band performed in Amherst or elsewhere, the workflow become unsustainable. In 2017, we converted the website to WordPress, added all the best SEO plugins and best-practices for the Amherst group, and retrained their photographers on the new workflow.

Since then, the management time is significantly lower for all parties, and the search and social performance of their digital content remains as strong as ever.

Amherst SEO Project: UMass Drumline - Media.

UMass Drumline

George N. Parks Building
110 Grinnell Way
Amherst, MA 01003

This time it’s official. The UMass Drumline—our 3rd and final Amherst, MA SEO client—is a sub-section of world-famous UMass Minuteman Marching Band. We’ve been working pro-bono for the legendary percussion ensemble on an ongoing UX/SEO effort since 2003.

SEO & Social Media: UMass Drumline in Amherst, MA

This one holds a special place. This project is our very, very first. Ever. We built the first iteration of this website all the way back in 2003.

UMass Drumline Website 2004.

UMass Drumline Website 2004, Flash animations and all.

Content & Social Media

From day one, the UMass Drumline’s digital marketing presence has been built on media content. In 2003, we didn’t have a term for that. Today we know it as Content Marketing—the concept of using shareable, consumable content to build a brand and gain exposure.

Amherst SEO Project: UMass Drumline - YouTube Videos.In 2003, we just knew that people like hearing us play (I was a member at the time). Shortly thereafter—in SEO/marketing terms, anyway—video took over as the primary channel.

We actually had one video on Google Video (can’t find it anymore). Which is to say—our video marketing efforts predate YouTube. Of course Google bought YouTube not long thereafter, and by 2008 we had our own YouTube channel.

In the 10 years since, we’ve gained hundreds of subscribers, tens of thousands of views, and countless comments, likes, and shares.

Ashburnham, MA SEO Projects

Ashburnham, MA SEO Marketing Projects.Our Ashburnham SEO client is a local photographer, who operates a home office and studio in downtown Ashburnham.

Photography SEO is a unique niche. Photographers produce tons of quality content, but they have to be careful about privacy when they publish photos.

The visual nature of their industry works beautifully in social media—and their User Experience is typically very strong—but indexable, written content can be hard to come up with.

Ashburnham SEO by Mxt Media: Sarah Megan Photography.

Sarah Megan Photography

6 Water Street
Ashburnham, MA 01430

Sarah Shaw is a mother, wife, friend, avid outdoorswoman, and professional photographer in Ashburnham. SEO and digital marketing are part of her business.

We began working with Sarah Megan Photography in 2014, and have been very happy with the results.

Ashburnham SEO by Mxt Media: Sarah Megan Photography — SERP competition.

Notice anything? The results are ALL collection & review sites. No direct competitors.

Photography is a unique niche/vertical in the SEO industry—in Ashburnham or anywhere else. The nature of the service is to produce tons of top-quality, visual content—something SEO is always chasing.

But privacy concerns aside (for portraiture, anyway), like most photographers, Sarah in Ashburnham’s SEO efforts sometimes struggle to produce enough written content to support the visuals and provide something for search engines to sink their teeth into.

Ashburnham SEO: Sarah Megan Photography - Portraits.

How we helped this Ashburnham SEO client

First and foremost, we helped Sarah Megan Photography establish their brand online in an SEO-focused way. Too many small businesses make crucial mistakes that hurt their Digital marketing, and Sarah was one of them.

We helped her migrate content to a solid platform, and consolidate her publishing into one unified hub.

After that, we provided technical expertise and support for her website, plus consulting toward most effective content strategy for her social media and blogging efforts.

Ashby SEO Projects

Ashby, MA SEO Marketing Company: Mxt Media.A few years ago, we completed a marketing & SEO project for an Ashby, MA business called Erin Shea Dressage.

Ashby SEO by Mxt Media: Erin Shea Dressage — Homepage.

Erin Shea Dressage

236 Foster Road
Ashby, MA 01431

Erin Shea is a professional horse rider and trainer in Ashby. She offers her clients dressage training, riding lessons, and horse sales & purchasing, all out of her Ashby home and barn.

Erin asked Mxt Media to provide a web presence that could capture traffic and leads of Central MA-area horse & equine enthusiasts looking for lessons or training.

Ashby SEO by Mxt Media: Erin Shea Dressage — Lead Funnels.

Lead Funnels

Every major page and section of Erin’s website features a large, contextually-relevant call to action form. The forms aren’t perfect, but they’re strategically placed to capture user intent at its highest.

In addition, each form is labeled appropriately to reinforce user confidence and to clearly identify and qualify leads once they convert. Each funnel and its form submissions are measured and reported on their own, thanks to the context-sensitive labeling.

Ashby SEO by Mxt Media: Erin Shea Dressage — Keyword Targeting.

Keyword Targeting

Horse training is a lucrative business under the right circumstances. A trainer’s reputation is potentially their most valuable asset. And competition can be fierce.

After all, the market for potential customers is very small, especially in New England.

Those two factors led us to a two-part keyword targeting strategy for this Ashby SEO project—we decided to target users in two distinct user profiles: beginner and expert.

Beginner keywords included common everyday phrases related to the equine industry. Phrases that are not used by professionals, and therefore indicate a lack of knowledge or experience in the industry.

Phrases like “horseback riding” and “horse lessons.”

Industry pros and knowledgeable amateurs don’t use those expressions, opting instead for “western riding,” referring to a type of seat/saddle, and “dressage lessons,” referring to a particular discipline.

Expert keywords included niche and specific phrases like “dressage training” and “hunter jumper re-schooling.” These phrases have very specific, almost esoteric uses and they indicate a high level of expertise in the field.

All phrases identified contained local variants to target searchers and potential customers in the Ashby, MA and Jaffrey, NH areas.

Clinton SEO Projects

Clinton, MA SEO Marketing Projects.

Our primary Clinton, MA SEO project is a website & technical/mobilegeddon SEO project for an industrial machinery company in Clinton, MA.

Morris Mechanical

19 Parker Street
Clinton, MA 01510

Morris Mechanical is the American small business prototype: family-owned, small-town startup in a hard-working, blue-collar industry.

They came to Mxt Media looking for a new website and a better way to showcase their products and services—you can’t sell it if you can’t get the word out.

Morris had 2 major problems before we were brought in to help: UX and IA. First, the IA stuff:

Clinton SEO by Mxt Media: Morris Mechanical — Services Page (before).

Information Architecture

Morris’ website was mostly homegrown. It had been built in-house by their office staff, none of whom had much experience with web design or development. Most DIY’ers don’t think of keyphrase silos when they’re building their websites and planning their content.

Not their fault. It’s a fairly advanced and specific topic in web marketing. We in the SEO community take it for granted, but nearly 100% of our past clients and consultations have a major a-ha moment when we explain the concept of one phrase/topic per page.

One-page list becomes 4-page silo

You can see from the screenshot above that their Services page was just 15 bullets in 3 different lists.

We separated those lists into service category pages and expanded each bullet point into a sub-heading with at least one photo and paragraph to highlight and explain the topic in further detail. Of course with an obvious call-to-action with each major page & funnel.

Okay, but why?

If you’re not 100% up-t0-date on your advanced SEO knowledge, not to worry. The reason we separated and expanded those lists is simple:

Google wants to identify a winner—an authoritative resource on each topic. Separating these services into their own page makes it easier for each page to focus on ONLY ONE topic. Topic A is not diluted by mentions of Topics B, C, and D.

Lastly, expanding the lists into subheads and paragraphs/photos provides more content and detail—more for Google to sink its teeth into. That makes each page more of an authority resource.

In SEO, more isn’t always better. Better is always better. And more of better is always more betterer!

Clinton SEO by Mxt Media: Morris Mechanical — Homepage (before).

User Experience

There’s no shame in it. Most websites are ugly. Ours is no exception in some areas. And Morris’ old website was ugly.

But there’s more to it than ugly. Like SEO/IA concerns above, most website owners don’t know much about user experience.

Companies like User Interface Engineering have had long histories of user experience research and education. And in the last several years, Google has invested more and more in the principles of UX.

The SEO value of UX is simple: what’s good for users is good for Google’s search results. What’s good for Google’s search results is good for SEO.

Bottom line? UX matters for SEO.

The primary UX principles that needed attention for this Clinton, MA business were navigation, mobile responsiveness, and accessibility.

Simplified, consistent navigation menus

Before: one large, button-based nav table with no breadcrumb/active-state indicators.

After: two separate text-based link menus with obvious “you are here” indicative styles.

Mobile responsiveness

This project happened before mobilegeddon, but the need for a more mobile-friendly interface was immediate. The before version was built in HTML tables and very difficult to use on handheld devices.

The mobilegeddon algo update says that Morris would have been invisible in mobile searches, which is obviously bad news for SEO. But even for desktop searches, the table-based layout was rigid and inflexible.

Accessibility

Tables, text flattened into static images/graphics, and image-based button navigation are all major DON’Ts for web accessibility. Visitors using screen readers or other assistive technologies may be blocked entirely.

That’s obviously bad news for those visitors—and if you’ve ever talked to a blind person, for example, about what it’s like to use web, you’d be blown away at how terrible their experience can be.

But in pure-SEO terms, accessibility is another UX component and therefore is probably a ranking signal. Better accessibility and better UX means better SEO.

Clinton SEO by Mxt Media: Morris Mechanical — Homepage (after).

After!

Gardner SEO Projects

Gardner, MA SEO Marketing Projects.

70 City Hall Ave
Gardner, MA 01440

Our primary Gardner, MA SEO project is a website & branding/marketing project for the firefighters’ association in Gardner, MA.

Gardner Firefighters’ Association

Gardner Firefighters’ Assoc is the official name for the firefighters’ union—Gardner Firefighters IAFF Local 2215.

Gardner Firefighters Local 2215 represents the 32 line officers and firefighters of the Gardner, MA Fire Department. They belong to both the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts.

Their online marketing efforts were one of our very first projects, back in 2008. Design standards have come a long way since then, but the core principles of effecting search engine exposure and optimization have not: solid user experience, well-formed structure, and useful page content.

Hadley SEO Projects

Hadley, MA SEO Marketing Projects.

Our primary Hadley, MA SEO project is a website & ecommerce solution for a music education company in Hadley, MA.

Inside the Circle

2 Bargate Lane
Hadley, MA 01035

This is one of my favorite projects of all time. ITC, as they’re known, is a tiny company comprised of internationally-known musical composers, teachers, and arrangers.

These guys are some of the best in the business. Their arrangements are performed by some of the absolute best marching and concert ensembles in the world.

They came to us looking for a whole marketing strategy from scratch. They had an old website under an old brand, but needed a 100% new approach.

We got them set up on ecommerce to sell their musical and educational material, plus some really creative social media automation to help outreach and promotion of their products, services, and events.

Lancaster SEO Projects

Lancaster, MA SEO Marketing Projects.

Our primary Lancaster SEO project is a website & social media package for a local coffee shop—nay, coffee cabin—in Lancaster, MA.

Jackson Effie Coffee Cabin

We’ve all been to coffee shops. And we’ve all heard of food trucks. But what about a coffee truck?

And what about a coffee truck that looks and acts like a log cabin? And what if that coffee cabin were on a perfect, picturesque New England farm in Lancaster, MA?

If I ever saw a coffee cabin like that, I’d call it Jackson Effie.

We did (and are still doing!) a full-scale marketing strategy plan for the coffee cabin’s owners, Nancy and Nathan Ciara.

We built a website. Consulted on their branding. Worked on slogans, messaging, and signage. We planned and implemented their aggressive local social media campaigns, centered around live video and personal recommendations.

Lunenburg SEO Projects

Lunenburg, MA SEO Marketing Projects.

Our primary Lunenburg SEO project is a technical SEO plugin development project for an event entertainment company in Lunenburg.

Platinum Productions

This Lunenburg-based company came to us with the most interesting technical SEO challenge we’ve ever had.

Platinum Productions provides entertainment services all over Central MA and beyond. Namely, DJs, emcees, dancers, lighting, sound production, photo booths—you name it.

They serve primarily the wedding and corporate event spaces—two very competitive markets. In order to target those markets with a local SEO approach, they wanted city-specific landing pages for all their services—no small task with 351 towns in MA and 234 in NH.

We combined some ingenious database work from their existing site with some custom, WordPress-specific shortcode functionality to pump out 500+ pages of localized content and contextual links for each of their service offerings.

Westminster SEO Projects

Westminster, MA SEO Marketing Projects.

Our primary Westminster SEO project is a pro-bono website & social media package for a non-profit organization supporting music in Ashburnham/Westminster regional schools.

Oakmont-Overlook Marching Spartans

This project is near and dear to my heart. It’s a pro-bono project to benefit a middle- and high-school music program in Ashburnham and Westminster, MA.

The program’s goals are unique—unlike any other Central MA small business SEO project we’ve handled. This group focuses on fundraising like many non-profits, but it focuses on recruitment first.

Only 7th-12th grade students in the Ashburnham/Westminster Regional School District are eligible to join, so their recruitment does not come from their online presence.

Instead, the online marketing efforts are aimed at the parents of these students—to recruit them to the parent/support group: your kid is in the band, shouldn’t you support the band? is their angle.

Worcester SEO Projects

Worcester, MA SEO Marketing Projects.

Our primary Worcester SEO project is a pro-bono technical consulting gig for Evolving SEO, the digital marketing empire of Dan Shure.

Evolving SEO

Hands down, one of the proudest moments in our history was when Dan Shure, a well-known SEO podcaster and Moz Associate, invited me down to his Worcester, MA office to provide technical help with his Evolving SEO website.

Dan had recently shifted to focus much of his time on his still fairly new podcast, Experts on the Wire, and he wanted help showcasing his episodes and expert interviews on his website.

That’s where we came in.

Dan’s knowledge of enterprise-class SEO is well established. He needs no help there (in fact, he has advised us on a number of projects!). But the tech side is one area that we could return the favor and help him out.

We had a minor setback at first, but overall our consultation was a resounding success.

I look forward to working with Dan and many more Worcester SEO clients in the future!

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Central Mass SEO & Online Marketing Agency

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