As far as major algorithm updates go, Google’s Hummingbird update rolled out with far more subtlety than the previous two, titled Panda and Penguin. In fact, Google had implemented the Hummingbird changes 5 weeks before announcing the modification and no one had noticed. The primary reason for this relative non-event when compared to the aftermath of the Panda and Penguin updates is that, rather than targeting black hat SEO practices and punishing sites that had used them to gain high search engine rankings, the Hummingbird algorithm change fine tunes results from two types of search; mobile and long tail queries.
Essentially a modification designed to analyze search terms in context rather than basing returns on keywords alone, the change caters to the more conversational and complex queries entered via voice commands on mobile devices. Typically, these queries are also longer in length, hence the focus on long tail search terms as well.     
The algorithm change presents two takeaways regarding content:
* Content must mobile device-friendly – Google has been very clear about the importance of mobile device-friendly content, with the Hummingbird update serving as another reminder. If you are currently running a website that formats content in the same way regardless of the device, consider an upgrade that implements responsive web design architecture. This approach automatically reformats your web pages according to the screen size of the device providing access to optimize each user’s experience.
* Content must provide value, solutions and/or answers for keyword-related queries – Now that Google can understand questions in context, it’s logical that the search engine will have a better grasp of the best answers to those questions. Instead of pages that appear relevant to a search because they have relevant keywords sprinkled through the text, the pages will be returned for the related query must now deliver specific answers to the questions being posed.
Google indicated a “Mobile first” priority a few years ago and continues to make changes as these devices increase their share of internet access. By building a mobile-friendly web presence that is supported by high value content, your site will be positioned at the busy intersection of mobile device access and longer search queries. 

For many businesses, the recent algorithm changes in Facebook’s News Feed forced a decision on whether to remain active...

Whether you are building a new ecommerce site or redesigning an existing one, there are three major considerations that should factor in to your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. 
  1. Responsive web design – Internet access in general and visits to your site specifically via mobile devices will increase steadily as computing moves toward always-on tablets and smart phones. Responsive design architecture will allow your site to deliver a positive experience for mobile users whether the interface occurs through a large monitor or a small iPhone screen. Because the search engines are also interested in an optimized user experience, dynamic sites with responsive web design architecture will be rewarded with higher search rankings.  
  2. Optimizing for Google’s new search paradigm – In the third quarter of 2013, Google switched out its existing algorithm for determining search rankings for a new one. One of the biggest changes implemented in the Hummingbird update, in terms of SEO strategies, was the shift of focus from specific keywords to the full context of search terms. The change was fomented by the increasing use of questions by mobile device users as search terms, primarily through voice commands. Successful SEO strategies will now have to optimize for longer phrases that answer questions about their products rather than building campaigns based around keywords that drive traffic. One of the biggest opportunities presented by this change is that companies that can define the most common questions asked just before purchases can position themselves on results pages at exactly the time when consumers are ready to buy.    
  3. Social media is not a plug and play channel – Facebook and Twitter have been long standing default choices for businesses seeking social media exposure, but both platforms present challenges in terms of generating revenues. Before dedicating resources to these platforms, look for “social shopping” sites like Wanelo and Poshmark and/or networks that are dedicated to specific interests that include your products and services. These smaller sites can put your business in a position where it is communicating with a receptive audience versus one that is more interested in sharing pictures of food and cats.
A new site or a redesign of an existing one presents numerous SEO opportunities. By starting from scratch with these current strategies, your site can deliver exactly what the search engines and your target market are looking for.

The Gervais Group, an industry leader in the provision and execution of results-based strategies in search engine optimization (SEO), web design, and e-commerce, is pleased to announce its return to Las Vegas to participate in Nationwide Marketing Group’s bi-annual “Prime Time!” buying show and members’ conference. The event, which takes place at The Venetian, begins on Sunday March 9th and runs through Wednesday, March 12th, 2014.

Headquartered in Atlanta Georgia since its founding in 2001, the Gervais Group has been designing and implementing comprehensive web-based strategies for the members of Nationwide Marketing Group since earning preferred provider status in 2012. These customized strategies encompass all aspects of marketing and selling products and services on the web while simultaneously driving targeted consumers to clients’ physical storefronts as well.

Nationwide Marketing Group’s core services are designed to benefit a membership that is made up of independent store owners specializing in appliances, furniture, consumer electronics, custom installation, and rent to own programs. One of the key benefits delivered by Nationwide Marketing Group, which is the largest group of its kind in North America, is the inclusion of its members in specialized buying groups which facilitates product discounts and rebates based on aggregated purchase orders. The aggregation of members’ purchase orders results in pricing and volume-based rebates that are competitive with those of national franchises.

Jason Gervais, the Senior Project Manager of the Gervais Group, said, “Nationwide Marketing Group’s ‘Primetime!’ conferences offer a bounty of information to its membership ranging from intelligence on the latest models across a broad scope of products to the best practices in web-based operations.” He seconded, “These events enable us to keep members current with the constant changes on the web, such as the opportunities presented by rise of mobile device access and responsive web design, both of which can enhance ecommerce efforts.”

The Gervais Group, which was founded in 2001, has been designated as a preferred service provider for Nationwide Marketing Group’s members since 2012. As a recognized leader in the delivery of customized ecommerce solutions, the company develops cost-effective strategies that drive sales while also enhancing the brand of each of their client-companies.

The Gervais Group, a recognized leader in the execution of web development, internet marketing and reputation management strategies, is pleased to announce that it will be presenting two informative sessions covering the best practices in social media for businesses during Nationwide Marketing Group's "Prime Time" conference and trade show, which starts on March 3rd and runs through March 6th, 2013 in Las Vegas. The presentations, titled "Establish your R.E.I.G.N. over Social Media" will provide insight and information on how companies can successfully Reach out to their target market, Engage with customers, Interact, Get feedback, and Note progress.


Topics will include:
An Introduction to Social Media – This discussion will cover how social media works, popular misconceptions, benefits, and risks of participating on social media platforms.
How to Develop and Execute a Customized Social Media Strategy – This section of the presentation will help businesses in their preparation, building and execution of strategies that can build their brand, improve rankings on search engine results pages, engage with new and existing customers, and more.
Metrics and Tools to Measure Social Media Initiatives – Information presented here will provide insights on the ways in which companies can keep their finger on the pulse of their social media initiatives.
The next opportunities in social media – The presentation will close with a discussion of the ongoing evolution of social media and where the next opportunities for businesses will arise.


The Gervais Group, founded in 2001 and a strategic partner of the Nationwide Marketing Group, has built its industry leading reputation by delivering cost-effective and result oriented internet marketing solutions for companies across the full spectrum of business. Strategies are customized to each client company based on industry, products/services, related keywords, and a host of additional factors. Initiatives typically target the optimization of rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs), participation across a variety of social media platforms, distribution of high value content, and website design.


Nationwide Marketing Group's PrimeTime! Conference is held semi-annually and is attended by thousands of business owners, vendors, and dealers from across the country seeking updates on best practices, the latest industry trends, and networking. Nationwide Marketing Group members now total over 3,000 in number and generate an aggregate of $12 billion in revenues annually.


Said Jason Gervais, Senior Project Manager of the Gervais Group, "The entire team at Gervais Group is very excited about our participation with Nationwide Marketing Group at the PrimeTime event in Las Vegas". He added, "Being asked by Nationwide to speak at the event is quite an honor and we are looking forward to presenting high value information that can take the social media initiatives of those in attendance to the next level".


Presentations by the Gervais Group at the conference are scheduled for Monday, March 4th from 7:30am to 8:45am and Tuesday, March 5th from 9:00am to 10:15.

A customer relationship management (CRM) system can offer numerous benefits for independent electronics dealers, especially when the business deploys aggregated customer information to develop loyalty as opposed to generating sales. In many cases, an electronics dealer armed with a new and relatively expensive CRM system in place will initiate sequential sales programs and advertising to their customer base with an objective of immediately turning the new software into money maker. If you have ever registered with a company that started sending daily emails in which you had little or no interest, you have experienced the customer’s side of this type of full-scale sales offensive.


Rather than taking this approach, an electronics dealer can achieve far greater and longer lasting results by applying data derived from a CRM system toward building customer loyalty, which in turn will grow revenues and the bottom line. With a CRM system in place, customer loyalty can be built in numerous ways, including:


  • Making a great first impression – The anonymity most customers feel when visiting or purchasing from a store is one of the first obstacles to building loyalty. This issue can be overcome via communications that recognize specific product preferences and cater to their values.
  • Determining what the customer is seeking – Knowing what each customer is looking for can help to put your business in a position to offer products and services that meet their needs and preferences. While one group of customers may value discounted prices on items they purchase, others may seek extensive product knowledge from the business’ sales staff. By defining where customers find value, your business can provide it.
  • Defining the most profitable customers – Tracking customers’ purchasing data can reveal your most profitable customers, who can be targeted with tailored and preferential offers.


Your CRM system can provide a variety of insights into your customers. By prioritizing loyalty before overt selling, your system can turn single customer purchases into long lasting and loyal relationships.

Featured News

  • User Experience and SEO



    Prior to Google’s implementation of the Hummingbird algorithm in the second half of 2013, search engine optimization and delivering a positive user experience with published content were distinctly different practices. Despite Google’s mission to surface high value content, its algorithms were easily manipulated with SEO tricks that didn’t necessarily deliver the information that the search engine users were looking for. At the same time, content that delivered relevant information often earned lower rankings than poorly written articles that prioritized packing in keywords over adding value.


    Hand it to Google, the search engine has stayed true to its commitment to deliver improved user experiences and is now far less vulnerable to manipulative practices. Its ranking algorithm now factors a variety of signals that result from positive user experiences, including:        


            Links from authority sites – Content that contains valuable source material, topic-relevant information or delivers a positive user experience in general can earn links from authority sites to provide additional information or to be cited as a reference. These links carry an increasing amount of weight in the ranking algorithms due to the quasi-vetting process from originating authority sites. This is a completely different ranking methodology than the one which rewarded web pages that had thousands of spammy backlinks purchased for a few pennies each.       

            Social actions – When content is posted to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, user can elect to share that material with their friends and/or followers. Sharing or liking posted content is referred to as a social action, which is an indication that the content delivers a positive user experience, whether it’s entertaining, informative or a combination of the two. Steady and/or increasing social actions with specific web pages can then boost rankings due to the implied legitimacy of independent referrals.    

             Active and positive comment threads – Quality content draws engagement in the form of active commentary threads. Content that is generating shares and likes will also elicit commentary, with the actions reinforcing each other when being weighed by search algorithms. While these reinforcing actions are great for SEO campaigns, they are equally capable of driving higher rankings for negative content, such as news stories.    


    In today’s SEO campaigns, manipulating the algorithms has become increasingly difficult. This is due in part to the growing sophistication in algorithm methodology that can detect spammy links and content. It is also due to the evolution in the way people communicate and share information on the web. The paradigm change now forces SEO and content distribution campaigns to focus on the same primary goal; delivering a positive user experience. 

  • One SEO Change to Implement Now


    As the sophistication of search algorithms continues to increase, search engines are improving their understanding of what their users are looking for with their inquiries. Prior to replacing its search methodology with the Hummingbird algorithm in 2013, search results typically showed results that had a high percentage of the same keywords included in users’ inquiries. While the pages that were returned based on keyword matches generally reflected some relevance to the search, there were also results that had nothing to do with the nature of the inquiry.


    Two of the primary reasons for these unrelated results were black hat techniques that were used to trick the early algorithms into granting high ratings, as well as words that were spelled the same but had different meanings, known as homonyms. An example of a homonym is the word “lead”, which can either be a noun as in the metal or a verb as in “to guide”. An inquiry such as “lead dog” could list sculptures of dogs made of the metal as well as dog teams in the Iditarod race. Refining the search to “what is a lead dog Iditarod” could still return mixed results. With the implementation of the Hummingbird algorithm, searches provided results based on the context of the inquiry, rather than trying to find pages with identical keywords.


    The change to contextual search, in addition to providing a higher percentage of relevant results for all users, was also influenced by the more conversational nature of inquiries from mobile device users. When voice commands are used, it’s more natural to ask a question than limiting inquiries to a few key words. As the search phrases became longer, keyword-based algorithms struggled to return listings that answered the questions that were being posed, which required follow-on searches and lead to a less than optimal user experience.


    For businesses that have not changed the foundation of their SEO initiatives to the new search methodology, previously high rankings are likely to start falling, if they haven’t already. The key to success in context-based search is to modify content so that it answers the questions posed verbally by mobile users. As a simple example, a searcher may pose the question “Where is a pizza place in Anytown?” Content that answers that question, which would earn a higher search listing, would include something like “Jack’s Pizza is located at 123 Main Street in Anytown.”


    As Google and the rest of the search engines try to deliver the best user experience possible, the focus is on eliminating listings that don’t deliver the answers sought by searchers. To that end, the listings that are presented will increasingly address the full context of inquiries with the delivery of specific answers. In this environment the SEO campaigns that are modified to answer questions, rather than match keywords to searches, will deliver website and storefront visits which will drive revenues.  

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