Website Design in the Hudson Valley: The Challenge of Achieving Top Search Ranking

August 12th, 2013

Regardless of where a business is located, of utmost importance is how well it ranks in Google’s “Who’s Who” of online searches. When a business is competing on a limited geographic basis, that concern is even more critical. With a more defined market and competition all vying for the same business, how well a company appears in Google searches can greatly affect its success.

So what is the secret to achieving top organic ranking in a regional market? There’s nothing secret about it. The same requirements needed to qualify for high ranking in global searches apply whether the pool is confined to a city, a state or a universe.

And what might those requirements be? While countless articles have been written on the subject, along with many bemoaning the latest shocking developments in algorithmic modifications which have dethroned some from the top spots, the answer can be quite simple. To appear as the best solution to someone’s search, you need to fulfill their quest for the right information: exactly what they are looking for. Google makes this judgment based on the content, emphasis and organization of your website. Since you cannot be the perfect answer to everyone’s specific search, your ranking will vary according to what kind of information is sought.

Simple? In theory. Yet, so complicated, when you consider how a minute variable can relegate you to a less-than-desirable ranking based on what terms a searcher may use, or how much more expertly (or luckily!) one of your competitors may have placed.

Add to this conundrum the fact that the market of our focus, New York’s Hudson Valley, which has become the bedroom retreat of the Park Avenue set, boasts the upper echelon of website, graphic and artistic designers hoping to satisfy the needs of the rural community in which they find themselves. This is staunch competition for anyone just entering the fray or a business without the proper credentials and long-term accolades.

What may separate the men from the boys, though, in our present economy, is price. The displaced Manhattanites who are probably accustomed to a lifetime of charging (and receiving) first-class fees may not be pleased at the impecunious leanings of the rough-and-tumble, countrified customers. While everyone expects top-notch services and even better results, the desire to pay for that level of quality leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Welcome to the 21st century. With competition stinging, an industry which once enjoyed an aristocratic pay scale has joined the ranks of the lowly laborer. Working for close to minimum wage is the new reality, if you can even get that!

So why bother? Well, for one thing, life goes on and there are hungry mouths to feed. Given that this wake-up call can discourage some of the high-priced carpetbaggers who may be tempted by the imminence of retirement anyway, try to find relief in a slightly diminished rivalry, albeit still lurking in the customers’ collections of competitive bids.

While searchers using a generous mix of terms may bring up one set of search results, which may include a worldwide selection of organic choices, interjecting a regional reference can narrow the search results considerably. This technique can produce more locally-based individuals, companies or sources of information. However, Google’s intuitive algorithms also note the searchers’ location and provide paid AdWord results which specifically target their close-to-home market (if any such businesses have invested in appropriate keywords.) Sometimes, more global sources of the same services appear in AdWords which exponentially complicate the marketplace and encroach on your already difficult terrain.

What to do? The only surefire way to compete on a level playing field is to resign yourself to another new reality: the days of free organic advertising are limited since Google’s master plan is to make money. Lots of it. Whether Google intended to get everyone used to the power of their free advertising only to snatch it away with the goal of selling millions of adwords seems a likely scenario. Google lured us all for years with its generous gifts and is entitled to a little payback. Okay, maybe a lot of payback. But unless you’ve tried Adwords, don’t knock it. The truth is that AdWords work! And if you are willing to pay top bid on a keyword, you will be guaranteed top spot. No ifs, ands or buts.

Still, your AdWord agreement with your website’s relevance to what someone searches for can affect many factors in how low a price you pay per click. If you can master that quandary, both your organic and AdWord outcome will be successful.

Connect with Marilyn Bontempo on Google+

Mid-Hudson Marketing President Marilyn Bontempo Named as Highest Level Expert Author

May 6th, 2011

Marilyn Bontempo, president of Mid-Hudson Marketing since 1975, one of the Hudson Valley’s oldest and most prolific advertising agencies, has been honored with the prestigious “Diamond Level Expert Author” status from, considered by some to be the “gold standard” in article directories, and arguably the most popular and “powerful on the Internet,” according to

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Selling Ads in the West Point Bugle Notes: How Email Marketing Turned Annual Dread to Delight

May 6th, 2011

Selling Ads in the West Point Bugle Notes has been an annual dreaded affair for more than sixteen years. But a sudden shift in strategy has turned dread to delight. Despite fear of missing its only market, one that has been slow to join the high-tech era, abandoning traditional methods of marketing in favor of online marketing has made all the difference in the world!

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Trademarks, Service Marks and Copyrights:
How The Laws Have Changed

October 24th, 2010

When clients engage us to create a logo for their brand, we are often asked whether they need to register the logo as a trademark or service mark. While it is not a requirement, doing so provides broad-reaching legal protection for the use of the mark in commerce.

Whether a trademark attorney should handle the registration is another common concern. Our advice is that you may attempt to do the registration yourself for a maximum filing fee of approximately $375 but the involvement of an attorney who would conduct formal searches and submit acceptable proofs of use in the registration process may prove to be a wise decision when considering the liability, inconvenience, expense and negative outcome of conflicts of rights or flawed filings. Read more »

How Copyright Laws Fail Us When We Need Them Most

September 10th, 2010

I used to worry about other people stealing my work. I do lots of different kinds of things so there is plenty to steal. In 35 years of being in business, I have produced plenty of exceptional photos, illustrations, graphic design, ads, websites, printed collateral material, logos, music and writing, to name just a few. And of course, I also have plenty of clients for all my competition to try to steal away from me as well. This is normal. If you are talented in any way, or in business of any kind, people steal from you.

What about copyright laws? Unless you want to waste lots of money hiring a lawyer to chase after every thief and take them to court only to get a judgement against them which they probably will never pay, what is the use? And that’s if you’re lucky. Most of the time in cases of Internet violation, you can never even locate the person responsible, let alone convict him of the crime. But it’s not money I’m after. If I were, why in heaven’s name would I be writing articles for Internet article directories who don’t pay for use of their articles? I write for such sites to get the benefit of linkbacks for my website and blog. What are linkbacks? They are a vital component of SEO (search engine optimization), as links back to my website from highly ranked, popular websites, which contributes to my achieving page one search results for my own website when appropriate keywords are searched on Google. It’s complicated but it works.

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Selling With Eye Appeal: How Graphic Design Affects Success in Marketing

July 22nd, 2010

Everywhere we look these days there are attractive, seductive, provocative visuals to lure us into clicking, reading or watching. Without these enticements, we move right along until something captures our interest. Okay, it’s fair to say that there are indeed words that can do this as well. Actually, phrases would be more accurate. The right mix of information can succeed in stopping us dead in our tracks and getting us to pay attention. Combine that with the right image, and you’ve got a sure winner. But wait…let’s take that one step further: the right combination of words, the right visual and a crisp, professional presentation - now there is a formula that leads you by the nose down the path of no return. You’ve been apprehended without even knowing it. So powerful is the attraction that you’ve lost all awareness that you’ve been sucked into a trap, your curiosity propelling you deeper and deeper into the beckoning abyss. Suffice it to say that this constitutes the essence of effective marketing, one of the most manipulative forces in the cosmos. Transcending culture, intelligence, profession, and every other human characteristic, this is a phenomenon of unimaginable proportions, capable of moving an entire lifeform to a desired end. Read more »

Mid-Hudson Marketing Wins International Design Award from QuarkXPress

March 19th, 2010

Mid-Hudson Marketing's Winning Artwork in the QuarkXPress Design of the Week competition

Click above to see the animated award-winning artwork

On March 17, 2010, Mid-Hudson Marketing, one of New York’s most prolific advertising agencies, was honored with the prestigious “Design of the Week” award from QuarkXPress, the benchmark in sophisticated professional design software. The Mid-Hudson Marketing artwork was chosen by a panel of international judges from thousands of entries by the world’s most famous designers who show their work at, Quark’s new website.

QuarkXPress Design-of-the-Week AwardMid-Hudson Marketing’s winning entry entitled “Attract Some Attention,” features “dazzling animated graphic art representing a selection of ambitious projects done over three decades for a diverse group of excellent clients,” said company president Marilyn Bontempo, who created the work.

Recognized previously for work involving excellence in marketing, design, photography and website creation, Mid-Hudson Marketing lists 19 other individual awards on its website, two others on an international scale.

With a 35-year history of developing the image of success in business, the company describes its clients as members of the legal community, as well as the engineering, real estate, roofing, healthcare, financial, home improvement, manufacturing, luxury auto accessories and international scientific industries. For more information, visit or call 845-493-0070.

The Value of Social Media in Business

December 21st, 2009

A client recently engaged me to set up a Twitter account for his law firm. Not that he personally had any intention of spending his precious time tweeting, he merely wanted to appear to be on the cutting edge of today’s trends. Since some of his work involves DWI, he is in frequent contact with a younger generation, many of whom are users and aficionados of social media.

Setting up a Twitter account is actually quite an involved process. First, you need to choose a username by which you will be known to all who use Twitter. It must be a unique name, never used by anyone else in the world of Twitter. This name is limited in length to a finite number of characters which makes this process quite the challenge.

Once accomplished, you need to add a “bio” or description of yourself, or your business, which captures the essence of your raison d’etre on Twitter. Since this blurb (as we call it in the industry) will be the most frequently read piece of info you present – your definition, in essence – it should be carefully crafted to represent both what you wish to communicate as well as how you wish to be perceived. (A true marketing assignment!) Read more »

So…what was the reason to have a blog if no one comments?

June 14th, 2009

“So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?” asks a New York Times Sunday Styles article, by Douglas Quenqua, June 7, 2009.

“According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned…”  as a result of failure to attract traffic.

But not all abandoned blogs die from lack of reader interest. Some bloggers find themselves too busy! And therein lies the rub!
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How to Market in a Bad Economy: What the Experts are Saying

January 4th, 2009

Everyone wants to know. What’s going to happen to business in 2009? How can we maintain or even increase market share? What is the right thing to do to build business going forward?

I must admit that after having read countless blogs by national experts on the subject, I cannot say for sure I know the answer because I cannot predict the future. And I’m supposed to be one of the experts myself.  

While one blog/book title I came across made me laugh (All Marketers are Liars) by Seth Godin, called “the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age” by Business Week, I’d be lying myself if I said I’ve known exactly what to do for the past 34 years in business. I haven’t. But I do have instincts and I have been fortunate to have been right about general principles of marketing for an entire career. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

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