Is Your Website Optimization Getting the Job Done?

Is Your Website Optimization Getting the Job Done?

Your Google website ranking is undeniably important. In fact, research shows that more than half of Google’s traffic goes to the top three ranked websites, and approximately three-quarters of the traffic goes to sites listed on the first page of search results. How do they get on that first page? Here’s the secret:

Their sites are optimized to ensure that they get there.

I’m sure you have already known about Search Engine Optimization, but a lot of local businesses are, quite simply, not getting the job done. They’re focusing on outdated (read: keyword-centered) SEO methods, or else they’ve designed their own websites and missed out on some key opportunities to improve their Google rank.

That stops now. In this post, I’ll walk you through the must-have optimization techniques that will help your website get the lion’s share of traffic for your keywords.

Coding Tips for Optimization

You’re probably not an expert programmer, but with today’s easy-to-use site-building tools, you don’t need to be. However, that doesn’t mean that you can afford to ignore some basic coding issues on your website.

Metadata

Metadata is the first coding issue to address. Metadata includes two things: your title tag and meta description. Both items appear on Google’s SERP, so you need to get them right.

Let’s start with the title tag. Ideally, you want as much of your title as possible to appear on Google. If you shoot for a title tag that’s fewer than 60 characters. (Technically, it’s 600 pixels but that’s a little harder to measure.)

Your title tag should contain your most important keyword as close as possible to the beginning of the title. After that, think about your audience and write a title that’s likely to appeal to them.

The meta description is longer, usually about 155 characters including spaces. Its job is to provide a concise and compelling description of your page. It’s important to have a unique meta description for each page of your website, including blog entries.

Here again, use important keywords but don’t overdo it. You want to give readers a clear idea of what your page is about to make them want to choose your site over the others that are available.

Schema Markup

Next, you’ll want to make sure to include Schema markup on your site. Schema is a collaborative effort by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Yandex. It’s designed to let search engines (and users) know what your website is all about.

For example, a reference to the word “avatar” might refer to:

  • A web ID that represents a user
  • The animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender or the film of the same name
  • The James Cameron film Avatar

Schema code provides context for the language you use on your site. Using it properly will ensure that your site displays properly and that the information you put on it can be understood.

Crawlability

The final coding issue to consider is the crawlability of your site. Google and other search engines send out bots to “crawl” your site – meaning that they check its navigability. Broken links and other issues can make it difficult or impossible for search engines to index your site properly and that can affect your search rank.

You can manually check your site and make sure to repair or remove broken links. You may also want to use a tool like RankSider to check your site’s crawlability.

Your Site’s Content and Optimization

When it comes to getting to the top of Google, your site’s structure and content have a lot to do with where you end up. While you can design your site to your liking, there are certain things you need to have if you want your site to do well.

  1. Global headers and footers will ensure that whatever page a user lands on, they’ll be able to find your home page and get basic information about your company. Your headers and footers should include basic information like your phone number, email address, and social follow buttons. The footer should also have hotlinks to the most important pages on your site.
  2. The About Us page may not contain a ton of keywords, but your site needs to have an awesome one to let people know who you are and what you do.
  3. The Contact Us page should let people know all the ways they can get in touch with you. That means you’ll need to include your address, phone number, email address, social pages, and directions to your office or store.
  4. Each service you provide should be on a dedicated page. Putting all your services on one page limits your SEO impact. You can target more keywords, both in your content and your metadata, if you give each service its own page.
  5. Finally, your site MUST be mobile-friendly. Ideally, you should use a template that’s mobile responsive and will adjust itself to display on any mobile device.

Including these five things on your site will maximize your SEO and ensure that Google’s algorithms give you the rank you deserve.

Web Design and Content

The design of your website might not play a direct role in SEO, but people will be more likely to visit (and revisit) your site if it looks good. That means that you’ll need to have:

  • A simple but memorable logo.
  • Compelling images that let people know what you do (and how you do it). Ideally, you should have original (not stock) images.
  • High-quality video.
  • Compelling written content that sounds natural, has a high degree of readability and uses keywords and LSI artfully. You don’t want your content to be overly repetitive. It should be easy to read and use plenty of white space.
  • Social share buttons make it easy for visitors to your site to share your content with their followers.
  • A click-to-call button is ideal if you want to make it simple for mobile customers to call you.
  • Reviews and testimonials are important. Having a live feed of your Yelp reviews might slow down your site, but you can put links to your pages on key review sites on your testimonial page.

Some companies add additional bells and whistles, but you don’t need to – and your site’s loading speed may be impacted by extras. Keeping it simple is the best way to attract traffic and engage the people who visit your site.

SEO is about more than keywords…

Your site may have qualities and pages that we haven’t listed here, but these are the basics. Doing a quick audit of your site can reveal opportunities for improvement – and make a big difference in your Google placement.

How to Tell Your Marketing Isn’t Working (and How to Fix It)

How to Tell Your Marketing Isn’t Working (and How to Fix It)

When you are running a small business, your marketing can make all the difference between a successful year and one that falls short of your goals. Of course, every business does their best to develop and execute dynamic marketing plans to drive customer conversions, however they can often fall short of the mark.

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is failing to review their marketing strategy to see where exactly they are falling short. By performing regular reviews of your marketing plan, you can quickly identify when it is not working, leading to solutions that you implement right away.

Here are 5 tell-tale signs that your current marketing needs improvement, as well as the best fixes for each scenario. By objectively auditing your advertising performance, you can easily see the areas that need to be fixed, then come up with a new strategy to get your business back on track!

You aren’t getting qualified leads for your marketing campaigns

The goal of marketing is not to just get leads, but to get leads that will actually bring you new customers. If you recognize that a large number of your leads are people that are not actually interested in your products or services, then you are definitely doing something wrong.

By analyzing the type of people that call, email or visit your website, you can tell whether or not you are targeting the right people through your current marketing scheme.

The Fix: If your leads are not high quality and are not resulting in customer conversions, then it’s time to revisit your content and target demographic. Make a list of your ideal customer, including key traits such as age, location, gender, and income level, then tailor your marketing plan to directly target those people.

You do not have a consistent marketing strategy

Have a look back through your recent content and advertisements to look for continuity. If you notice that your social media posts, email blasts or sales materials do not all convey the same message, then you can be confusing clients.

You want your business to be represented in a structured manner that runs the gamut of the sales cycle: getting potential clients interested, cultivating leads, converting clients, then reselling. If you strategy doesn’t follow this pattern, then you may be missing out on vital elements of digital marketing.

The Fix: Put yourself in the perspective of a potential client. Draw out a roadmap of how you want to captivate somebody to be interested in what you offer, how you can guide them to becoming a client, a persuasive manner to close the deal, then a follow-up strategy to resell to them.

You are not differentiating yourself from the competition

Regardless of your industry, there is likely to be a wide range of competition that is also marketing to the same clientele. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make is that they play it too safe, being afraid to truly draw attention to themselves by being unique.

If your marketing strategy is too generic, then you will simply be lost amongst the hundreds, potentially thousands of competitors that are offering similar products or services. This will not help you increase sales or grow your clientbase, but rather be a waste of your marketing budget and your resources.

The Fix: Pick a handful of businesses in your industry and have a look at their marketing campaigns. If you notice that yours are quite similar or see that most companies are doing the same thing, then make a list of ways that you can set yourself apart. From compelling organic content to the use of dynamic media such as videos, start adding innovative aspects to your marketing plan that nobody else is doing.

Searching your business does not bring favorable (or any) results

The whole goal of marketing is drawing eyes to your brand in a positive manner. By simple conducting some online searches for your business and relative terms, you are able to get a sense of how often potential customers see your company. If you aren’t on the first page of search results for your services or local searches, then it becomes exponentially harder to draw in new clients.

When you do find your business online, you also want to see what existing clients are saying about you. Checking Facebook, Google, and any industry-specific review sites for feedback is extremely important. Businesses that have a large number of positive reviews are far more likely to convert searchers into paying customers.

The Fix: If you notice that your business doesn’t appear in searches, it’s time to ramp up your SEO. From regular organic content to strengthening social media presence, you need to add new dimensions of marketing. If you are lacking reviews, reach out to your current customers by incentivizing them to add feedback on a variety of review sites.

You haven’t pre-sold to your customers

When you have clients contacting you or visiting your website, you want them to already know exactly what they want. They should be walking into your door ready to take you up on your latest offer or buy your newest product without you having to convert them.

If you find that potential customers are unaware of your products or need to be convinced to buy from you, then your marketing needs to ramped up. Marketing should not just begin the sales cycle, it should already have people in the mindset that they are ready to do business with you!

The Fix: You may need to be more direct in your advertising efforts, focusing on both informing and persuading people within first glance. Integrating some sales videos that highlight the benefit of what you offer and intensely pushing current promotions will give the clients a sense of urgency to act as fast as possible.

Turning your marketing strategy around

If you notice that one or more of these issues apply to your current situation, then there is no better time than the present to begin revamping your marketing plan.

Working with a professional marketing team can drastically increase the efficiency of your campaigns by driving customer conversions, maximizing ROI and reducing costs.

Click here to request your free marketing blueprint session to help fix any current issues and bring your company the business that it deserves!

Are You Ignoring 35% of All Web Users?

Are You Ignoring 35% of All Web Users?

If you tend to keep up with SEO and search trends, then you know that almost everything focuses on Google. And why not? Google is by far the largest search engine, snagging about two-thirds of all searchers.

Two-thirds is a lot, but do you notice what’s missing there? If you remember what you learned about fractions, it’s not that hard.

Got it?

That’s right! One-third of all searches aren’t using Google.

And yet, amazingly, most businesses aren’t thinking about other search engines at all! They remain laser-focused on Google.

That’s good news for you, because it means that by taking other options into account, you can get a leg up on your competition. Sounds pretty good, right? So, let’s talk about it.

What Search Engine Are the Missing 35% Using?

If not Google, who?

That’s probably what you’re wondering. You might think that that elusive 35% is split among several search engines. That’s right – but it’s also wrong.

You see, as of 2015, Yahoo made a deal with Bing. Approximately 51% of all Yahoo searches use Bing. And, since Bing and Yahoo are responsible for about 35% of all search traffic, that means that optimizing for Bing can help you capture people you might miss by thinking only about Google.

Bing and Google have a lot in common. But, if you search one of your keywords and compare the SERP, you’ll notice some differences. Addressing those differences can help you stand out from your competitors.

The key is to do it without messing with your Google rank.

Advantages of Optimizing for Bing

Before we walk through how you can optimize for Bing searches without affecting your Google rank, let’s talk about the main advantages of optimizing for Bing.

  1. You’ll face less competition than on Google. Remember, most businesses aren’t thinking about their Bing rank. That means if you take the time to optimize for Bing, you can outrank your competition and grab the lion’s share of traffic from Bing searches.
  2. Traffic from Bing has, on average, a higher conversion rate than traffic from Google. It’s hard to quantify the reasons for the difference, but it may be that Bing users tend to be older and more affluent than Google users.
  3. Bing is much more open about their ranking factors than Google. Instead of guessing about what will help your site to rank, you can simply refer to what Bing has said about it and optimize your site accordingly. In other words, they’re pro-SEO.

These things point to a clear opportunity for business owners who want to find a low-cost but effective way to attract more traffic.

How to Improve Your Bing Rank

Now, let’s talk about what you can do to improve your rank on Bing. Many of the things that work for you on Google will also work on Bing. The trick is to tweak your SEO just a bit, so your site maintains its Google rank and moves up on Bing.

Make Sure Your Site is Indexed on Bing

The first step is to make sure your site is properly indexed on Bing. If it’s been around for a while it probably is, but if your site is new, it may not be.

Start by doing a search for site: www.yoursite.com on Bing. That will show you how many of your site’s pages have been indexed.

If they’re indexed, you can move on to the next step. If they’re not, you should go ahead and submit your site here.

Tell Bing How Often to Crawl Your Site

Next, tell Bing how frequently to crawl your site. If you look at Bing’s Webmaster Tools, you’ll notice that the default setting is standard. That’s fine if your site is static; but, if it’s large or you update it frequently, you should dial up the crawl rate for the best results.

Submit a Clean Sitemap

Bing has only a 1% tolerance for dirt in your sitemap. That means if you want your rank to improve, you’ve got to clean it up and submit it. You can do it on your Webmaster Tools page.

Another option is to include a link to your sitemap in your Robots.txt. However, the benefit of doing it through Bing is that you’ll get error messages if there are problems with your sitemap. That means you’ll be able to clean them up as you go.

Use Straightforward Keywords

If you know anything about Google, you know that LSI and context are nearly as important as keyword use. That’s not the case on Bing. They put a higher premium on exact keyword matches than Google does.

Fortunately, this is a change you can make without hurting your Google rank. You’ll want to increase your keyword density a bit, but not so much that it affects the quality of your content.

Using those same keywords in tags – the title tag is hugely important on Bing – is essential, too.

Improve Your Click-Through Rate

Bing pays a lot of attention to user behavior. If users click your site and then hit the back button, it will affect your Bing rank.

You can check your CTR and bounce rate on Bing from your Webmaster Tools dashboard.

Build More Backlinks

Google tends to place more emphasis on the quality of backlinks than the number of them. Bing does the reverse.

You can’t disregard the quality of your backlinks without negatively impacting your Google rank. But, by adding additional backlinks, you can positively impact your Bing rank.

It’s also a good idea to do what you can to improve the quality of your anchor text in your backlinks. Don’t overdo it – that can hurt you with Google – but contacting a few webmasters to ask them to use keywords in the anchor text can help you with Bing.

Use Social Signals to Your Advantage

Unlike Google, Bing comes right out and says that social signals have an impact on the SERP. That means anything you do to boost your social media impact will help you with Bing.

The best way to capitalize on this is to monitor your social signals, attract new followers, and do whatever you can to amplify your reach on sites like Facebook and Instagram.

Ignoring Bing users is a bad idea…

By taking a few simple steps to boost your Bing ranking, you can out-maneuver your competition. When you think about it, it makes no sense to simply ignore a third of all searches – so stop doing it and give Bing the attention it deserves!

5 Things You Should Know About Google in 2018

5 Things You Should Know About Google in 2018

If people can’t find your website, they’re not going to buy from you.

Sounds simple, right? It’s internet marketing 101. You can’t expect people to purchase your products or try your services if you’re essentially invisible to them.

Google is the world’s top search engine. They also own YouTube, which is the second-largest search engine. That means that getting a high rank on Google can make or break your business.

So, all you need to do is focus on the things that are most important to Google and you’ll be home-free.

Except…

Google’s algorithm is proprietary. That means we don’t know exactly how Google determines rank. They’ve shared some of the bits and pieces but not the entire picture. Marketing & SEO pro’s make a living reading between the lines connecting the dots to help their clients get the highest rank possible.

Here are the 5 things you need to know to improve your site’s rank and rise to the top (or as close as possible) on Google’s SERP.

#1: Backlinks to Quality Sites Still Carry Weight

In a Q & A session from March of 2017, Google revealed their top three ranking factors. Backlinks were number one. Since Google rarely comments publicly about their algorithm, we can’t say for certain that backlinks are still number one, but it’s safe to assume they’re very close to the top.

A backlink is any link that leads from another site to yours. If you want backlinks to have a positive impact on your Google rank, they must be from authority sites. Multiple links from the same site won’t help you since Google evaluates backlinks based on domains, not volume.

Remember that spammy backlinks won’t help you. In fact, they may hurt you. When a low-quality site links to yours, Google may associate your quality site with their low-quality content or practices. Instead of buying links or engaging in other “black hat” practices, focus on organically building quality links.

#2: Content is Still King

The next most important ranking factor is your content. Google’s aim is to provide highly relevant, quality content to searchers. The better your content is, the more likely it is that your site will rise to the top of the SERP.

Not all quality is created equal. You can signal quality to Google by doing the following things:

  • Use keywords properly. Keyword stuffing won’t help you, but using keywords in your URL, title tag, H1/H2 tags, alt tags, and in the first paragraph of your content will.
  • Make your content long enough to be satisfying. There’s no specific word count to aim for. Instead, your goal should be providing visitors to your site with the information they’re looking for. If you do that, they’ll be satisfied – and your rank will reflect it.
  • Make your content comprehensible. By that, we don’t mean making sure people can read it. Rather, it has to do with providing context for your content. The use of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) words can help. In other words, remember that your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

To earn a high rank on Google, your content must be relevant and engaging. If people who find your site through Google are happy with your content, they’ll show it by staying on your page and engaging with your content. Their behavior in relation to your content – combined with the other content factors here – will tell Google what it needs to know about your site.

#3: Mobile Responsiveness is a Must

The next thing to consider is whether your site is mobile-friendly. As of 2017, more than half of all Google searches were conducted on mobile devices. That’s not something you can ignore.

If you’ve been paying any attention to developments at Google, you know that their Mobilegeddon update in 2015 penalized sites that weren’t mobile friendly. As of 2018, not being mobile friendly will have a negative impact on your Google rank.

Mobile users expect the sites they visit to be easy to use – whether they’re accessing them on a smartphone or a tablet. They’re not going to frequent your site if:

  • They must wait too long for it to load
  • The buttons are too small for them to use properly
  • They must scroll horizontally to read your content
  • They can’t access the same content they can on a computer

The takeaway here is that mobile users matter, and your site should reflect that.

#4: Slow Loading Pages Will Drive Users Away & Affect Rankings

Web users are notoriously impatient. People who visit your site will expect it load quickly. If it doesn’t, they’ll find another site, instead.

Since “quickly” is a relative word, let’s talk about what it means. One study found that 47% of web users expect a site to load in two seconds. Of those, 40% will navigate away if the site takes longer than that to load.

You can test your site’s speed with Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. If it’s too slow to load, you’ll need to address the situation. Some things that may affect your loading speed are:

  • Poorly optimized images
  • No Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • No caching plugin (WP Rocket is an example)

Minimizing your site’s loading speed will ensure that mobile users won’t navigate away from your site out of frustration.

#5: HTTPS is a Must

You probably know that, as of 2017, Google is penalizing sites that aren’t secure. That means that if you aren’t already using HTTPS, you should be.

HTTPS provides a secure user experience for your site. Sites that use HTTPS display a webicon of a lock. Those that aren’t secure get a message stating that the site isn’t secure, instead.

Switching to HTTPS requires buying a security certificate, installing it, and rerouting traffic from your HTTP site to the new HTTPS site. Once you do, your site will display the lock icon and you may get a boost in your Google rank, too.

Google’s Algorithm is Proprietary…

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take steps to improve your site’s rank. The five ranking factors listed here are key to moving up the SERP – and getting the search traffic you deserve.

7 Ways to Acquire New Customers Starting Right Now

7 Ways to Acquire New Customers Starting Right Now

A stagnating business is more likely to fail than one that’s growing.

I mean, let’s face it. That’s just common sense. Businesses that experience new growth – in the form of new customers – have an advantage over businesses that are barely managing to hold onto their existing customers.

That’s not to say that customer retention doesn’t matter. It does! But attracting new customers is a must. And it can be expensive. In fact, research shows that attracting a new customer can be up to 10 times as costly as retaining an existing customer.

But…

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And, not all customer-attraction methods are necessarily expensive. Here are seven (relatively) low-cost ways to acquire new customers and grow your business.

#1: Update Your Audience Research

I’m always amazed when I talk to business owners and they tell me that the last time they conducted audience research was years ago.

That’s crazy. Audiences change. You’ve got to know who’s interested in your products – and why they’re interested – if you’re going to understand how to bring your audience to your site.

If it’s been a while since you conducted any audience research, it’s time to get back on the horse. For example, you can:

  • Check your analytics and look for new trends
  • Create a customer survey and email it to your list
  • Do a social media survey

These things will help you fine-tune your targeting. You can also use them to create (or update) a customer persona or avatar to help you with your marketing.

#2: Know Your Competition

Competitor research is another key component of customer acquisition. After all, you and your competitors are vying for the same audience. Knowing what they do and how they’re doing it can help you pull ahead in the race for new business.

A couple of easy tactics to use include:

  • Tracking your competitor’s backlinks and traffic
  • Monitoring your competitor’s social mentions
  • Doing a complete audit of their websites
  • Reading their blog and other marketing materials

Ongoing competitor research will ensure that you’re not losing out to your competitors.

#3: Focus on Benefits, not Features

Another common mistake business owners make is getting too wrapped up in their product’s cool features at the expense of considering the customer’s experience.

Let’s face it. A potential customer doesn’t want to hear your brag about how awesome your product is. They want to know what it’s going to do for them.

Don’t tell them that a frying pan has a non-stick surface. Tell them that it will simplify their clean-up! That’s a simple example, but it illustrates the point.

You can list your products features briefly, but most of your marketing should focus on benefits. Think about your customer (see #1) and the problem they want solved. Then, explain how your product will solve it.

#4: Build Trust with Your Target Audience

If you know anything about marketing, then you know about the Rule of 7. It says that, on average, a customer must have seven interactions with your brand before they’ll buy from you.

The key to building trust is to use those seven “touches” wisely. You’ll need to be consistent. That means knowing your audience, having a clear vision for your brand, and using the same voice for all your online content, whether it’s on your website or social media.

And speaking of social media, it’s ideal for building trust. You can connect with your followers every day without seeing overly sales-y or obnoxious.

#5: Pair with Other Businesses

You can’t expect your direct competitors to refer business to you. That would be counterproductive for them. But that doesn’t mean that B2B referrals aren’t possible.

Try searching for businesses in your niche – or in a related niche – that aren’t in direct competition with you. Then, approach the owners about the potential for a reciprocal referral program or joint venture.

For example, if you sell dog training products and there’s a company that sells cleaning products for people with pets, you could pair up to create special offers and referrals. You might link to their site and have them link to yours, and you could even create limited time offers and specials.

The key is that you’ll get access to their customer base and they’ll get access to yours – and you probably won’t have to spend anything to do it.

#6: Create a Referral Program

It’s important not to ignore your current customers as ambassadors for your brand. After all, who’s in a better position to tell new customers about the benefits of buying from you?

The key is not to assume that your existing customers will spread the word about you and your products. They might do it without prompting, but why not make it easy for them? A strong referral program can bring you new businesses on a regular basis.

Many referral programs incentivize referrals. For example, you might offer customers a free product (or a free month of service) in return for a referral. Or, you might host a special event for customers who refer new business to you.

Make sure to specify the terms of any rewards and to provide customers with what they need to make referrals, whether it’s a supply of business cards or brochures or a dedicated URL on your website.

#7: Create Shareable Coupons and Offers

A referral program is one thing. But what if you could convince your existing social media followers to spread the word about your products in return for a simple coupon?

You can! The next time you’re running a promotion, encourage your followers to share it. Your call to action can say something like, “Why keep all the savings for yourself? Share this post with your friends and family so they can get a bargain, too!”

The key is not to assume that people will share your content. They may not know that it’s okay with you for them to do so – so make sure to ask in your call to action.

New customers aren’t everything…

But, if you want your business to grow, you’ll need to expand your reach. These 7 simple tips can help you attract new customers without blowing through your marketing budget. Instead, you can use them to blow past your competition!