Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Top 5 Most Impactful Advertisements of the 2014 Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLVIII has come and gone, and so too has millions of dollars in advertising. Fox charged a whopping $4 million for each thirty-second ad. What companies made the best impression on the Super Bowl’s record high 111.5 million viewers?
There seems to be a strong sentiment that this was an off year for Super Bowl commercials (not to mention the actual game). Many folks can’t even point to a favorite. Perhaps this year, the offerings weren’t as funny as previous years, but what brands ultimately care about is impact. To say the least, many companies successfully established a whole new way of viewing their brand. That’s why we’ve ranked the Top 5 Impactful Advertisements of the 2014 Super Bowl. These are the ads that forced us to reconsider their company’s image. This is just our list, so if you think we missed something, make sure you comment below.
With that said, let’s start our list:

#5 “Make Love, Not War” - Axe

This advertisement was rated the best Super Bowl ad of 2014 by While we don’t believe this ad had the most impact, it certainly was one that kept our attention. It opens with visual references to many fear-invoking US policy issues, including Vietnam, North Korea, and Iran.  Our expectations are quickly changed as the scenes turn from priming fear to showing love. A tank opens so a woman can hug her dear husband. 
So, why then does this advertisement fall so far down on our list? It might have overshadowed Axe's actual product. After all, "make love, not war" is a complete thought in itself. What we believe Axe was going for is a sort of historical revisionist take, as if Axe's product would have increased attraction between men and their wives, which would have stopped many of the world's conflicts. The implication is that the smell of Axe brings people together enough so that they forget about war. Yet, we don't believe most got this takeaway. We don't see the male actors actually apply the product. Moreover, the advertisement could be seen as a charity message, if you take out the small part at the end that actually reminds the audience that there is a product launch happening. 

 #4 "The Phone Call" - Radio Shack

We’re not ranking this ad due to its humor. The ad is attempting to be funny, but it just seems to fall flat in this regard.
With that said, we do get a clear sense of Radio Shack’s message. The use of many classic 80’s movie characters and old technology was a good way to help transition the image of Radio Shack being outdated to a newer reveal at the end of the ad. Many people were probably surprised the company still exists, let alone has hip products that they might actually care about.
While we still aren’t sure why Radio Shack should be preferable to Best Buy, Target or an online retailer, we at least know that it will have the latest products, should we happen to be looking for something when we pass one.
#3 “The Truth” - Kia
There could have been no better pick to dispel the marketing image of competitors than Morpheus. We instantly understood that Kia was trying to portray itself as a quality product lost due to insufficient marketing.
With that said, this ad definitely could have been improved. We didn’t think the qualities of the car were actually emphasized enough. What did Morpheus mean by talking about the feeling or the sound of the car? Are the seats of higher quality material? Are the speakers’ extra high-quality? The execution also felt a little bit off, and while it seemed like the goal was to be funny, it didn’t really stand out comically. Also, the humorous approach doesn’t really synergize with the Matrix atmosphere. That’s what kept this ad from making it higher on our list.
#2 “America’s Import” - Chrysler
What could be more impactful than Bob Dylan asking you to let him make your car? That’s quite a line coming from the musical legend, and certainly made us wonder why Bob Dylan was willing to go so far for this brand.
But there’s one level deeper that needs to be addressed here. Many people don’t realize this, but music is a large export from the United States. You can travel all over the world and hear American music on the radio. Equating the two is important, because most Americans only listen to music that is made in the USA. ‘Listen to American music in American cars’ is the sentiment here.
The other impactful element is the idea that products have an optimal origin. Where do quality watches come from? Obviously Switzerland. How about quality cars? Obviously America, the place where they were originally created.

#1 "America The Beautiful” - Coca Cola

 This is any easy pick for the most impactful spot. There’s already been a lot said about this advertisement and for some reason it’s coming off as controversial. Is it really that shocking to hear Spanish in an advertisement when there are 38 million native Spanish speakers in the U.S?

Whether or not the ad is controversial, it is certainly accomplishing the goal of embedding Coca Cola deeper into U.S culture. For those who don’t know, Coke is actually trailing in market shares to Pepsi in the United States. How has Coke decided to rebrand itself? It wants to be the embodiment of the American melting pot. The image of Coke being a tolerant and liberal-minded company will also appeal greatly to the younger generations, and just might get them to put down the Pepsi in the grocery store, in order to help a company with progressive values. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Polar Vortex Reveals Higher than Expected Profits in First Quarter of 2014

January 27th, 2014 – Chicago, IL – Newcomer Polar Vortex announced today in a press conference that he is proud of the work he has done so far in North America. The Winter Wonderland that Vortex has established across much of the Midwest and Eastern United States has been successfully implemented since the start of the new year, and its effects are quickly spreading.

Mr. Vortex was quick to apologize to those whose lives were made especially more difficult by the weather, particularly garbage, postal, and emergency workers.  These associates, he maintained, are an integral part of life in the current weather system, and should be respected for their hard work.

Vortex is the first successful businessman trading in cold weather to hit the scene since Arctic Outbreak’s four-day business venture in 1996.  Mr. Outbreak retired early, leaving very large shoes to fill; Polar Vortex has stepped up to the challenge, and exceeded all expectations, particularly in light of recent global warming concerns.

Mr. Vortex foresees huge profit margins for his Winter Wonderland debut.  These profit margins, he assured, are beneficial to everyone affected.  Mr. Vortex outlined the benefits of the cold weather, including cancelled school classes, extended work deadlines, and, of course, the aesthetically pleasing ice that has formed on every imaginable surface.  He noted that the inimitable Heat Wave, an increasingly frequent figure in the global marketplace, is not his business rival so much as his mentor, and he hopes their individual projects will bring about a greater national appreciation for the other’s work. 

At the close of his statement, Mr. Vortex revealed that he had even received a personal letter from Disney CEO Bob Iger, thanking him for the marketing potential he has created for their hit animated feature, Frozen.  Vortex hopes that he will continue to receive such positive feedback as his current endeavor continues.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Freedom Industries Public Relation Disaster

       Charles Ryan Associates dropped Freedom Industries as a client last weekend after what looks to be the start of one of the largest Public Relations disasters of the year. It will likely never be known what Charles Ryan Associates attempted to do for Freedom Industries. What is certain is that the company could have handled this event better, and it’s a bit confusing why they didn’t do things that most people would view to be intuitive. Ken Carper, an attorney and president of the Kanawha County Commission, says Freedom's handling of the leak and its lack of follow up since Friday is ‘bizarre’ (Strauss).”
       There were two main issues with Freedom Industries response. First, they didn’t execute the few press releases they did have. Second and perhaps more importantly, Freedom Industries didn’t seem to care about the mistake they made.Gary Southern, CEO of Freedom Industries gave a short press release on Friday that was at best unprepared. The Southern failed to apologize properly or even seem to acknowledge that this was a major event effecting thousands of Virginians. Worse, there was no mention of an investigation of how the event happened, how future events will be prevented and how they planned to amend for the mistake (Botelho). But the worst part is that the information that Southern gave about internal awareness of the spill was false. Southern claimed that the spill was noticed internally at 10:30 am and which point staff began to fix the leak. However, the Environmental Protection Department reached the spill at 11:10 am and saw no evidence of a cleanup (Trip).

So how could they have greatly improved their public image?

They should have acknowledged the mistake truthfully and provide details of the 3 steps below being worked on internally
1.      Investigate how the spill happened and how they can use that information to prevent future spills
2.     Demonstrate commitment to cleaning the water
3.     Demonstrate commitment to pay medical bills of people affected, and distribute clean water to as many people as possible

       If necessary a third party public speaker could have been hired for the press conference. If pressed on why the CEOs were not making statements it could have been completely acceptable to say that they were busy working to rectify the mistake. Also it would have been nice to see some indication of the spill on their website, even just a short blurb about their internal process for rectifying the problem (assuming they are attempting to do so).

       Even at this late stage the CEOs could still salvage their image if they could focus on distributing clean water and demonstrating a commitment to pay hospital bills of those effected. One can only why any human being wouldn’t do everything humanly possible to make up for a mistake that poised the water supply of hundreds of thousands of Virginians.

Strauss, Gary, Marisol Bello, and Wendy Koch. "W.Va. Company under Scrutiny for Chemical Spill." USA Today. Gannett, 13 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.
Botelho, Greg, AnneClaire Stapleton, Mike Ahlers, Paul Caron, Ashley Fantz, Ed Payne, Marlena Baldacci, Kevin Conlon, Susan Candiotti, and Dave Alsup. "Chemical Levels in West Virginia Water Drop, but Still No End in Sight to Ban." CNN. Cable News Network, 11 Jan. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2014.
Trip, Gabriel. "Thousands Without Water After Spill in West Virginia." The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Additionally, we wanted to post some interesting things we found about job boards in general and its users (Source):

Some last minute tips:

3.       Be subtle: don’t post that you’re actively searching for a job, but rather make your prime focus connecting with others. This will help eliminate the frustration of not finding a job immediately, and it will make you look more graceful.

4.       When you reach out, take time to build a full profile and add a personalized message. Don’t just use the default “I’d like to add you to my network.” It suggests you’re uninterested and don’t want to talk to the person. You don’t want it sound like you've sent the same message to hundreds of people. Treat contacts like you would potential clients, personalize.

5.       Don’t post too much! This isn't Twitter. There are a lot of things to look at on LinkedIn, and status updates are not the whole focus of the site. It’s a professional network. Keep it clean and purposeful. People don’t want you cluttering up their news feeds.

Finally, here is a list of Do's and Don'ts of LinkedIn:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ethics of LinkedIn

In the late summer and early fall, many articles were generated about the ethics of LinkedIn, especially around a hot debate in the legal community. The think-pieces centered in on the ethics of endorsements, and the +1-style feature that other users could give other users. It was thought to be a way of providing a recommendation, but of course, there were some interesting ethical implications. Here are a couple of articles to explain that topic further, before we get on to our area of interest:

The rest of this post is going to focus on differing ideas about LinkedIn and its ethics from the controversial and possibly-guilt inducing “Job Seeker Premium” membership, to contacting employers ahead of an interview.

One claim leveraged against the site is that it “double-dips” because it charges employers money to post job ads and then additionally those who elect to pay monthly for the premium membership. It’s not that anyone needs to buy the membership, but rather, it places the resumes of users who elect to pay for LinkedIn’s services on top.(Note: You can only pay to move your application to the top of the recruiter’s list when you’re applying for jobs that employers pay to advertise.)

However, LinkedIn didn't’t start this way. It was initially entirely free to job seekers, but over a certain period of time, it transitioned into more of a job board than a networking site to generate higher profits. The particularly distressing part, according to Nancy Collamer, is that job boards have proven incredibly ineffective at matching applicants to openings.

That’s not to completely dismiss the social networking site. Employment Office suggests LinkedIn can be effective in “targeting passive candidates.” It’s a specialized method of direct candidate search and selection. The hiring manager approaches a targeted candidate who is already employed with an opportunity for an alternative position. It requires knowledge of the candidate and their networks. LinkedIn allows you to search user skills and to connect with people through others. It can help to know a mutual contact to get you in the door with that targeted candidate.  But, as always, the ethical lines are not always clear. Many LinkedIn users offer their profiles publicly so as to connect hiring managers with knowledge about their skills quickly. In countries like Australia with strict legislation regarding the protection of personal data, you must access people’s information in a way that is both legal and considerate. As well, you should never misrepresent yourself or your company. It’s a very high risk operation with its own ethical quandaries, but LinkedIn, in this case, can provide a more ethical approach to targeting passive candidates. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

It’s 2014. Is Your Website Updated?

As we here at Unimar prepare the launch of our new website, we thought we’d share why it’s important to keep your website updated.

Everyone wants a website that people visit daily. Think about where people usually bookmark their homepages. Their email, daily news websites, and so on. Why? Because these websites constantly have new information available to its audiences. The web in 2014 is all about fresh content. Very few businesses will be able to compete with the New York Times or Gmail, but the point still stands. Internet users expect websites to remain up to date and, in addition to that, user friendly, too. You want to give your online audience a reason to return. Clumsy web design, outdated graphics, and stale content won’t be a reason for return-visits to your site.

Here are some reasons why regular web maintenance is important:

It keeps visitors interested. Fresh material added regularly means that there is an incentive for users to keep coming back to your website. Whether visitors buy or not on the first visit isn’t your focus. It should be on repeat visits. New content, text, graphics and images help build traffic of repeat visitors and grows the potential for lifelong patrons.

Focusing on customer feedback. L.L. Bean has a great lifetime warranty on their products, and it encourages repeat patronage. Just because it’s the web, doesn’t mean you should shirk customer service. Find feedback on your website and respond to it. Don’t frustrate your users by ignoring what they need in a functioning website. You need them more than they need you. Remember that.

Maintain your Google rankings. Google pique your interest? The search engine gives higher rankings to websites that are updated regularly because they want to present the best quality content in their searches to their own users.

You want your website to operate at its peak performance. This requires an active involvement in its maintenance. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Is your website responsive? In the last couple of years, there have been more and more mobile users. If your website can’t accommodate a smart phone, then chances are you’re aggravating your consumers and spoiling a relationship with them. Technology is changing, design trends are coming and going. Be up to date on them as a way of being in touch with your existing and possible clients.

(A quick guide on being response:

Are you reaching your goals? Our businesses change and their goals do, too. A website should reflect those goals. A change in company image, in services, prices—all should be reflected. Your website is a way of crafting and showing possible clients your identity as a company. Show them you thrive off active and engaged consumers and that you meticulously take care of your appearance. You care about yourself and by extension, you care about your users.

Is it hard to keep updated? If your website is hard to update, explore why. By making a website more easily maintained, you’ll be able to update on the fly and not have to do large overhaul of coding just to update small details. And as a side note, some experts recommend that you completely revamp the look of your site every three years.

Don’t get caught with a year past. It’s 2014 now. Your website shouldn’t be associated with 2012, so update your website and copyright statement in the footer. Websites that don’t appear modern signal to your clients that the information and the website itself isn’t as fresh as it could be. It suggests a lack of work ethic and might promote disinterest in your brand and product as a result.  But more importantly, by not keeping up to date, you could be missing out on a great layout and newly developed tools to help build your business, increase sales, and elevate your web presence.

And some last minutes considerations!
Craft your website to reflect your audience’s tendencies and behaviors. Readers on the web scan over information, so keep it simple and scan-able. To craft a website that reflects your audience, you’ll have to do some research. You need to know what they want and how to deliver it.

Does your company talk like its clients? If not, find a happy medium where the two styles overlap.
Remember in this modern web world, content is king and users want to feel active and engaged. You have to understand your clients and tailor your websites in a way that anticipates what they want so as to ensure repeat visitors and long term relationships.

Just get in the routine of updating your website. Schedule a time, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly. It could be as simple as changing the wording or updating an image, but these small things can mean big rewards. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Last week, I recapped the top 3 marketing trends of 2013. One of them, gamification, deserves a little more explanation. Over 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies plan to use gamification for the purposes of marketing and customer retention. By harnessing people's natural desires to compete, achieve, gain status and money, express themselves and even to be altruistic, marketers can turn their product into a game, and actively engage their audience.

Popular Types of Gamifaction

Check-ins and Badges - Used often with fitness sites and apps such as Foursquare, virtual badges are awarded each time a customer reaches the next "level". These levels correspond, for example, to the amount of time someone has exercised, how many people they've recruited, how many restaurants they visited and logged with their apps, and so on. This is similar to the idea of frequent customer rewards, where if you collect a certain number of points, or spend a certain amount of money you get bonus gifts, but is even more engaging and cost effective. These apps encourage frequent use, and provide constant feedback and reward. It is just as rewarding to receive a graphic badge for an achievement as it is to receive a physical prize, and the idea of "leveling up" makes customers feel like they've earned the reward at the end.

It's important, when using this sort of gamification, to balance individual rewards with community rewards. Rewards only for community achievement can encourage coasting, and when sticking to just individual rewards it's easy for customers to get bored or plateau. The solution, as found by a recent MIT study,  is to reward participants not just for their own contributions, but by how much their contributions inspire others. He likens it to academia, where a publication is deemed more or less influential by the number of citations it receives in subsequent research. This encourages users to improve themselves, and keep leveling up individual ling, while also striving to better their standing and influence within the community.

Treasure Hunts/Narrative based marketing

This is a rarer form of gamification, as it requires more set up and investment on the part of the company, but is often more engaging and rewarding then simple badge and check in systems. This sort of gamification is generally attached to viral marketing, and works well when a new product, album or movie is being released. The idea is that users must follow a series of clues and puzzles, or accomplish a series of tasks to unlock additional content and prizes. Often, a loose narrative is created, such as the theft of the brand new product that must be recovered by the careful sleuthing of the customer base.

The idea of gamification, in all it's forms, is to encourage consumers to feel like the marketing they are doing, or the product they are using, is fun. That it is rewarding. That each time they buy a product, or refer a friend, they are accomplishing something. There's nothing more satisfying then physically crossing a task off a sheet of paper. By tapping into the human desire to compete, improve, and increase their status, companies can encourage their client base to do the marketing for them. 

First five comments get a free response! If you have any tips, comments or suggestions about games and marketing, let us know in the comments below  and on twitter and facebook

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Top 3 Marketing Trends in 2013 (So Far)

At the end of 2012, the top marketing trends and predictions focused on gamification, mobile marketing and content marketing. Now that we're halfway through 2013, did these predictions hold up? Has mobile marketing hit its saturation point? Is the focus still on content and a broad social media and mobile presence? Let's take a look at how these predictions held up, and how they changed.

Mobile Marketing - is still on the rise. If growth continues at the current rate, by 2015 more users will access the internet through mobile devices than their computers. It's just a fact - when your phone is a portable computer you will use it whenever you don't have your laptop or desktop. Thanks to smartphones, every minute of someone's waking day could potentially be spent online. It's not a coincidence that 42.8% of marketers planned to increase their marketing spending in 2013, it's just good business sense.

Content Marketing - Recently, there's been an emphasis on content. Not just amount of content, but quality of content. With the advent of the blog, the initial theory (and instinctual impulse) was to just put as much information out there as possible. Update as often as possible and let the rest sort itself out. Now is the time to sort all that content out. Companies are re-evaluating their approach to content. How they organize, how they curate it, whether quality of content is more important then quantity of content, and the hammer is coming down on the side of quality. Producing less content, but of a higher quality is proving itself to be a better strategy then providing a lot of content without much consideration to content. While having a blog filled with posts back to 2007 is impressive, readers would rather not have to slog through a lot of mediocre content to get to the gems. Instead, they would rather read only the best of your posts, even if there are fewer. 

Gamification - is a relatively recent marketing innovation, that's seen a lot of use in the beverage and food industry. Essentially, it turns marketing strategies into a game. The most classic example is when companies hold contests or surveys and let the consumers decide what the new candy flavor will be, or the logo, or the mascot. An adaptation of this strategy to the internet, particularly to social media, is to offer prizes or rewards based on likes, shares and re-tweets. For instance, if you share a certain link x amount of times, you get a special reward, rank or badge. Companies have also arranged internet "scavenger hunts" where consumers unlock certain rewards at each level, where each level involves some form of promotion, purchase or use of the product. 

Whether these trends continue, or some new marketing strategies arise to take their place remain to be seen. What trends have you noticed so far? Is there any marketing strategy that you're glad to see go? Let us know in the comments below twitter and facebook

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Client Isn't Always Right

"The Customer is Always Right." Anyone who has spent anytime in a client driven industry is familiar with the phrase. From grocery stores to marketing firms, when your business depends directly on the amount of customers and clients you get, this phrase is treated like the gospel. Unfortunately, anyone who has ever worked in client driven business also knows that the client usually has no idea what it is they want.

The whole reason why you hire a professional is because you don't have the knowledge to do it yourself. You might have ideas, you might have suggestions, but you don't have expertise. This is why you go to a doctor when you're sick, and when your doctor gives you medical advice, you follow it. An ideal client relationship works like a doctor-patient relationship. The client comes in with a problem, offers some suggestions of what the solution might be, but ultimately defers to the experience of the professional they hired.

In reality, the client comes in with suggestions or ideas that will not work, or won't work without heavy modification. You tell them this as politely and deferentially as possible, because after all, you can't afford to lose the client, offer some suggestions, and inevitably, your suggestions are rejected. If you followed the motto "the customer is always right", this is where you would back down, go with the client's ill advised idea, and then have to deal with the blow back when it doesn't work, or doesn't work well enough. The problem with the "client is always right" is that the customer comes to believe this as well. Obviously if things didn't work out the way they wanted, it's your fault for either not listening to them or, conversely, listening to them even though you knew it wouldn't work. As a professional, you can't win.

The solution? Acknowledge that the client isn't always right. Don't be afraid to state, clearly and decisively, why the client's idea, while interesting, will not work. Use examples of similar ideas that have failed. Provide one or two suggestions for alternatives,  and don't be afraid to emphasize the years of experience you have.

For example, if you have been tasked to design a flyer for a client and they want to put something on the flyer that just won't work - it's too strongly worded, the design is ugly, it's the sort of information that isn't meant to go on a flyer - explain to them why it won't work, and if (when) they ignore your suggestion, provide two examples. One with their suggestions, implemented exactly as is, poor wording, color scheme and all, and one the way you know from experience will work best. Present the two suggestions side by side, and 99% of the time, they'll pick the one you designed.

Most of the time if you let the client know in no uncertain terms that their suggestions are a bad idea, and provide alternatives, they will listen. Trying to turn a poor idea into an acceptable one is a waste of time and effort.  If the idea is salvageable, let it drop. The good thing about most clients is that they don't know what they want until they see it, so if you provide examples of what you know works, they'll find something they like and you can go from there.

For the 1% who persist in making poor design choices, there is quite literally nothing you can do. It comes down to whether you can afford to be associated with a poor design - if you pride yourself on the quality of your work, this might be the time to drop an ultimatum on the client, instead of the other way around. But usually, it doesn't come to that. Generally, when you firmly but gently tell a client "how about we try this instead", they'll go along with it.

Always listening to your client is a good way to churn out mediocre work. You will not, in fact, have a high rate of customer satisfaction. Ultimately, you and the client care about the same things - results. If you do everything a client wants, and it fails that is your fault. The client will very rarely if ever take responsibility. It's much smarter to make sure all your projects succeed, even if that means proving a customer wrong.

How do you deal with difficult customers? If you have any additional tips or suggestions, things that worked or didn't work for you, let us know in the comments, or by contacting us on twitter and facebook

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5 Tips to Improve Your SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, how do you make Google work for you. Anyone who's ever used a search engine understand the concept: the results on the top of the first page are the ones you click on. So how do you get there? Honestly, it's better to just hire a SEO certified professional, or a marketing team to handle it for you. But here are some tips to get you started.

1. Keywords - Figure out what sort of words people use to search for your product, and include as many of them as you can in your website. This is often done on a coding level, where the website itself is designed to make it as easy as possible for search engine indexing to find it.

2. Cross Linking - The more times people click through to and around your site, the higher it climbs in the search engine rankings. One strategy is to have, essentially, sets of links, where the main page takes you to a second page which takes you to the content you're looking for, to have links to other pages on the most important pages. There are ways to do this organically, without disrupting or annoying the user, such as linking to a page with services, then having the user click on each individual service to see examples of it.And/or, when organically mentioning another service in the description of your current one, linking straight to that service in the text.

3. Inbound and Outbound Linking - Advertise your website. have links to your website on your social media sites, on your blog, and links to your blog on your website. The more places that your blog or website shows up, the more it will be scene, and more importantly, the more it will be trafficked. One of the things search engine crawlers, the things that find and rate the sites, look for is how often your site gets mentioned on other sites.

4. Data and Analytics - Once you start getting traffic, you need to track that traffic. Search engine algorithms change all the time. Make sure that you know who's visiting your site, when, where and how, so you know how to change your website and your SEO tactics to match your demographic. Most companies that provide SEO help or expertise include analytics and tracking as part of the package, as it's hard to optimize something when you don't know h0w it's performing in the first place.

5. Sponsored Links - If doing SEO the organic way just isn't producing the results you want, you can always pay the search engine to get featured at the top of the results. Whether or not this is actually effect is up in the air. Many people, myself include, specifically avoid the sponsored links because we assume that their not actually the best results. Search engine user like to think that the reason an article or a business is at the top of the list is because it's the most popular, and most relevant result. Sponsored links bypass that, and as silly as it sounds, feels like the company is blatantly "cheating" to improve their standing.

These tips can get you started, but as you've probably figured out, SEO is best left to professionals. Luckily, there are a lot out there (including my company, UnimarPR). Just try to focus on companies that provide "organic" SEO optimization over sponsored links or pay per click, as search engine companies prefer websites and businesses that game the system naturally.

How important do you think SEO is to a business? If you have any additional tips or suggestions, things that worked or didn't work for you, let us know in the comments, or by contacting us on twitter and facebook