Liam Quirk was an artsy kid in a technical family: his mother, Patricia, was a nurse, and his father, William, was an aerospace engineer who worked on the Apollo program. He grew up in Buckingham, Pennsylvania, where his family was an early adopter of technology. They had one of the first personal computers, and Quirk took computer classes in high school before computers were integrated into every level of academia.
He earned a creative writing degree from the University of Colorado in 1981 and a masters in literature from University of Washington after his undergraduate studies.
Quirk’s creative side harmonizes well with his technological skills. Now 54, Quirk lives in Trenton, and runs River City eMarketing, a firm that specializes in connecting businesses with their audiences.
SCORE of Princeton will host Quirk at the South Brunswick Public Library on Tuesday, November 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to speak about search engine optimization. Free. Visit www.princeton.score.org.
Search engine optimization maximizes web traffic by placing a particular website high on a search engine’s list of results. Understanding how SEO works is a successful marketing strategy and can increase business for a company.
Quirk will offer insight into the current digital landscape: the mobile age. Phones and tablets are ideal for on-the-go, image-driven information. “Hieroglyphics,” Quirk says. “More pictures, less words. People want to be a little less technical.”
But understanding some of the technology is important, too: “Nearly 85 percent of all local search traffic is done on mobile devices,” Quirk says, “so a website has to be mobile, truly mobile. Not just pinch and zoom.” If users have to fuss with a site too much on their phone, they will often skip to a mobile-ready site, which means lost opportunities for unprepared businesses.
“The third screen,” Quirk says, “represents a shift and growth. Mobile devices aren’t replacing desktop computers, but we’re using them more now, especially younger people.” Google is the top search engine, so Quirk will explain its intricacies at the workshop.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about search engine optimization,” says Quirk. “The biggest is that people believe that they have to stuff their website with terms. And they’re underestimating the importance of images and video.” Video in particular is well-suited for mobile devices, and it’s a helpful tool for businesses that want to attract customers. “Video keeps people on your site for longer, and it’s a great way to get information out in a short time,” Quirk says.
But content isn’t everything. “What goes on your website is only half the equation,” Quirk says. Backlinks — an incoming link from one site to another — help with search engine ranking, but the quality and authority of those referring sites is key. “For instance, Facebook is the strongest. Getting a link from Facebook is worth a lot with the rankings.”
“A wise use of social media is also important for marketing purposes,” Quirk says. “But you don’t have to do everything. Marketing is marketing. It’s the same. Networking is good. Face-to-face can be more effective than Pinterest, for instance.”
Other factors that result in a higher ranking are directory listings on sites such as Yellowbook, Yelp, and Yahoo. But a company’s reputation online is vital not only to its ranking on Google, but also its success.
Quirk cites Nielson’s recent Global Trust in Advertising survey (www.nielsen.com): “Seventy percent of consumers consider an online review the same way they’d trust a review from a friend or a family member,” Quirk says. “We do business with people we know, like, and trust.”
Along with a good reputation, authenticity and understanding your audience are Quirk’s recurring themes for fruitful SEO strategies and business in general. He brings up podcasts as a powerful way of connecting customers and companies. “Podcasts allow people to get to know you. They’re hearing a real voice, a real person. And if there is advertising on the podcast, it can generate revenue,” Quirk says.
Audio is personally vital to Quirk, as well: he is a guitarist and songwriter when he’s not helping companies to grow their businesses. You can find out more about his CD, a Time for Wandering, and listen to the title track on his website, liamquirk.com.
River City eMarketing, Quirk’s company, provides businesses with strategies for building a strong online reputation, or, if necessary, repairing a sullied one. “In that case,” Quirk says, “they need to take charge and respond to the negative criticism.” River City eMarketing also helps authors produce electronic versions of their books, and then market those ebooks. Quirk’s company offers a marketing strategy to bring businesses and customers together, by making productive use of search engines, mobile technology, video, social media, as well as traditional media, like print. For more information, check the company’s website at www.rivercityemarketing.com
In addition, Quirk is an adjunct professor of English at Rider University, where he teaches composition and a honors class called Great Ideas, which focuses on philosophy via literature.
“I love doing seminars for SCORE,” Quirk says. “They are great helpers. The quality of people is just fantastic.”