Category

Search Engine Optimization

5 Instant, Effective, and Affordable Ways to Boost Your Online Marketing

By | Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Integration, Website Design and Development | No Comments

Contrary to popular belief – and what some of our competitors might tell you – getting better online marketing results doesn’t have to involve designing and launching a brand-new website.

There are times when you should take that step, of course, but it can sometimes be just as smart (and a whole lot more cost-effective) to make small and immediate improvements to the website you have. For some business owners and managers, making inexpensive tweaks might be the only choice if budgets are tight.

A lot of web designers don’t like to admit this, but there are little things you can do to boost the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns that don’t require a lot in terms of effort or money. They won’t save you if you have a bad website, but they can go a long way towards helping you get more returns from a good one that just has a few issues.

To put it a different way, sometimes it’s better to put new tires and a fresh windshield on the car you have rather than trading it in at the dealership. The same thing can apply to business web design. Making a huge investment into a brand-new layout isn’t always the answer, particularly in the short term.

With that in mind, let’s look at five effective, affordable, and nearly-instant ways you can boost your online marketing results…

Audit current website#1 Audit Your Business Website

Imagine if you could have a simple report that told you exactly what was going on with your business website at any time. It would give you statistics about visitors and traffic sources, along with insights into which pages and content categories were most popular. It would also evaluate technical factors like web page loading speed, quality of your internal links, and even your current search engine positioning.

What we’ve just described is referred to as a website audit. Getting one doesn’t take long and won’t cost you very much. What you get in return is valuable information about the way your web presence is seen by search engine spiders and used by real-world prospects.

Business owners are often astonished by the things we can learn during a website audit. For instance, we could discover that they have broken links preventing the flow of traffic from one page to another, or that a landing page isn’t functioning correctly and leaves potential customers at a dead end. We might learn there are duplicate content issues causing Google to ignore certain pages, or that visitors are leaving before the company’s content displays at all.

Auditing a website isn’t just about picking up on problems, either. By better understanding who you have coming to your pages and studying their actions, you can spot opportunities you didn’t know existed. You may discover that some products or subjects are attention-grabbers, while certain offers just aren’t pulling in the kind of responses they were designed for.

It’s the combination of web analytics with technical testing and creative evaluation that makes a website audit so valuable. It gives the business owner the chance to see a “big picture” view of their online strategy that’s difficult to obtain in any other way. Most importantly, it can point the way towards small, simple, and inexpensive course corrections that let you get more from your existing website without having to pay for a redesign.

upgrade website hosting

#2 Upgrade Your Web Hosting

How much do you know about your web hosting package? If the answer is “not much,” you aren’t alone. Most business owners are barely aware of how their websites are stored and delivered.

It’s not hard to understand why: an entrepreneur or manager will normally choose the cheapest option when it comes to web hosting because they don’t really understand the choices. They want their pages to be on the internet, and any plan will allow for that. So, they assume a standard “small business package” is the smart choice.

However, there are a lot of reasons to pay a little extra for premium web hosting. That’s because better hosting comes with several performance and security-related benefits.

One of the easiest to understand is faster website loading. With premium web hosting, you get dedicated server space on newer equipment. That means your website is going to load faster than it would if it were stored on an older crowded server with hundreds of other websites.

There are also lots of online security features that come with better web hosting. For example, you’ll likely get access to automatic daily backups and real-time traffic monitoring. That way, if someone tries to hack into your website, someone will be watching. And, you’ll have extra copies of all your content ready to use if there is a problem.

SSL connections, which are included or available with good web hosting, are increasingly important. These allow for encrypted transfers of data between your website and a user. They have been used by banks and online retailers for years, but businesses are beginning to integrate SSL functionality into their sites as well because Google prefers it. That means you could protect yourself from hackers and thieves while gaining a search visibility advantage over your competitors.

These are just a few of the things you get with better web hosting, and they are all available at a cost of just a few dollars per day. Take that into consideration and it’s easy to see why upgrading your web hosting can give a big boost to your online marketing campaigns without taking much from your budget.

#3 Add Local Keywords to Your Website

Search engine optimization is often thought of as being tedious, intensive, and requiring big up-front investments of time and money. All of those things can be true, particularly if you’re trying to take on lots of nationally-known companies in your market or industry.

If your focus is on local buyers, however, optimizing your website for search on Google and Bing is relatively straightforward and incredibly inexpensive. That’s because search engine programmers are working hard to match buyers with businesses and vendors in their own cities and neighborhoods. You have a built-in “home-field advantage” that you can either take advantage of or ignore.

How do you maximize your local search visibility? It all starts with adding geographic keywords to webpage titles, headings, and links.

For instance, a business like ours might make sure phrases like “Providence small business web design” appear in prominent places throughout the site. They might also include a state or province, or even a specific neighborhood. That way, Google’s search spiders can see where the company is located and direct searchers who are nearby and looking for the same type
of business.

Other easy and very inexpensive ways to attract local customers to your website involve adding maps and driving directions to your website or creating specific pages for each office or location you operate. These serve as further guides to your place in the geographic world and help you to stand out to customers who live and work nearby or happen to be passing through.

The amazing thing about optimizing a business website for local searches that it’s not just simple and affordable but can pay huge dividends in a relatively short amount of time. That’s because Google is continually re-indexing its search results, particularly with regards to queries for local shops, vendors, and retailers. Search programmers know small businesses open and close all the time, so they make it easy to update rankings on a weekly basis.

The upshot to all of this is that you can spend very little time and money and suddenly make your company more visible to dozens or hundreds of local buyers every week.

Online Review Management#4 Gather Strong Online Reviews

According to a survey by Forbes magazine, 90% of us check out online reviews before making a purchase, appointment, or even a visit to a retail store.

This statistic seems to surprise some business owners, but I’m not sure it should. After all, stop and think about the way you shop for products, restaurants, or service providers. Don’t you go online to see whether others have been happy with their purchase? You probably do, and so do your customers.

Recognizing the importance of online reviews is crucial because they can make or break sales opportunities before they have even developed. In other words, someone who sees bad feedback (or no feedback) about your business might decide not to call or stop by. If that happens, you won’t even be aware that you lost a sale in the first place.

Conversely, if prospects go online and see all kinds of fantastic things written about your business, your service, or the value of your products, they are far more likely to give you a try. More than that, they’ll start a new business relationship with the assumption that they are going to be pleased later.

Because this is such a profound difference, you should be taking great care to monitor and grow your online reputation. However, updating your business profiles on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Business, and numerous industry websites are local business directories would take a lot of time. Luckily, there are faster and more convenient ways to do things.

A good web designer can set you up on an affordable reputation management plan that costs less than a round of coffee for the office. Using intuitive and automated tools, you can be alerted every time someone leaves a new review for your business. You can also send links to new and existing customers who are happy to share testimonials on their favorite sites so it only takes them seconds to complete a review.

Often, the strength of your online reviews will determine whether you ever meet a new customer or not. Isn’t it worth a few dollars a month to ensure buyers are getting the right impression of your business?

Social Media Marketing Calendar#5 Create a Content Calendar

You are undoubtedly aware by now that new content feeds your blog, attracts search engine visitors, and drives your social media marketing campaigns. Google will come back to your site more often if you have lots of new pages or updates, and Facebook’s engagement formula is built to reward content producers.

At the same time, most small business owners don’t post nearly as much as they should online. Usually, it’s because they think coming up with material for their blog or social accounts has to require hours spent in front of a keyboard or a big budget for creative services.

You don’t need either one. Instead, you just need a basic content calendar that helps you to organize your thoughts and efforts.

Your content calendar can be as simple as a handwritten list, or a page on a spreadsheet. It just needs to include a list of upcoming themes, events, or topics your customers would care about. This could be a holiday, a new product rollout, a seminar, or something completely different.

For each item on your calendar, you add the appropriate content piece (like a short blog post, a series of tweets, etc.) that should be used to reinforce the theme. Suddenly, you have the blueprint for a working plan. If you decide to create your own content you aren’t starting from scratch, and if you hire someone they can charge you less because they know what you’re trying to accomplish.

No matter how you go about it, creating content is one of the most inexpensive ways to promote your business over the internet. Every time you produce a new article or visual, you give searchers a reason to visit your site and social followers something to share and pay attention to. By putting a content calendar into place, you organize your own thoughts and remove the biggest stumbling blocks to the writing and designing process.

Are You Ready to Move Your Online Marketing?

In this short guide, you’ve gotten five different low-cost, high-impact tips you can put to use today. All of them work and can make a difference in your bottom line rapidly. Best of all, none of them requires you to turn your marketing budget upside down to get started.

If you’re ready to put these ideas to good use – and kick your online marketing into a higher gear – then we invite you to contact us today to schedule a free consultation. It won’t cost you a thing, and in just 60 minutes or less our creative team can show you how to put these strategies and others to work.

Don’t waste another minute or dollar. Contact us now to set up your free meeting!

How to Get Huge Value From a Small Business SEO Campaign

By | Search Engine Optimization, SEO tips | No Comments

Almost every small business owner decides to give search engine optimization (SEO) a try at some point or another. It’s not hard to understand why: with more than 4 billion searches a day, Google can send you more business than you could ever get from a billboard, mailing campaign, or referral network.

While the benefits of a strong SEO effort might be obvious though, the path to a high Google search ranking isn’t so clear. In fact, most of the new clients we talk to will admit that their past campaigns yielded little or nothing in the way of results. That’s true despite the fact that many of them put a lot of time and money into improving their search visibility.

We don’t want to see you put your resources into a project that doesn’t pay off. So today, we want to share a set of easy steps you can follow to get huge value from your small business SEO campaign. It’s not difficult, but it does take a bit of focus and patience. Let’s take each of the things you’ll need to do one at a time…

Know Your End Goal

We meet too many entrepreneurs and managers who don’t have concrete goals for their search engine optimization plans. To be sure, they want to see more visits coming from Google, but many can’t identify the end business result they are hoping for in any kind of specific or measurable way.

To have any value, your search engine optimization campaign has to result in something that moves the needle for your company. That could be more phone-in leads, foot traffic in your store, online inquiries, new appointments, or something else altogether. Without an end goal that means something, though, you’re just creating more work without any definable positive outcome. That’s not a good use of your energy or resources.

Design an Online Sales Funnel

SEO Content FunnelHow many websites do you visit every day? And how many of them do you actually buy anything from?

There isn’t any law that says more traffic to your website will generate new revenue for your company. People can come and go looking for information without ever sharing their email address or credit card number. That’s why you should have an online sales funnel in place – a series of steps or offers that brings someone from their first stop to the outcome (that sale, lead, or visit we mentioned before) you’re hoping for.

Your sales funnel can be simple or complicated, depending on how expensive your product or service is and how long it takes a buyer to do their research. Either way, though, you don’t want to leave things to chance. Leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs prospects can follow and you’ll end up with more conversions from the search traffic you’re going to bring to your pages.

Begin With the Basics

Many business owners like to jump straight into what they consider to be the “work” of search engine optimization. They want to see keywords being added to their pages, for example, or meta descriptions being altered to fit search terms precisely.

Those steps are important, but only after you’ve taken on the basics. Specifically, we’re referring to keyword research and website auditing. Research is useful so you can figure out what it is your customers are actually looking for, and what your competitors are up to. By auditing your website, you can figure out what your technical strengths and weaknesses are, and determine what your existing search visibility profile looks like.

Without these important prerequisites, your SEO campaign will always be haphazard and based on luck. That’s a good way to waste time and money, which we’re trying to avoid.

Get Into the Code

At this stage, it’s time to start actually making changes to your website. You (or better yet your web designer) can go in and make changes to page titles, headings, internal links, and many other parts of your pages.

This is the easiest step in the search engine optimization process to understand, and it’s the simplest from a strategy perspective. However, if the other pieces aren’t in place – or if you work with a web designer or SEO consultant who rushes through the work – it isn’t going to make a long-term difference in your search visibility. And unfortunately, you probably won’t see much of a return on your investment.

Consider Testing Everything

After your website has been optimized for search visibility and conversions, you might want to strongly consider testing your SEO campaign. The best way to do that is with pay-per-click (PPC) search ads.

With just a few dollars, you can run text ads that target the search engine optimization phrases you’ve researched. That way, you can get prospects on the same pages organic searchers would see and find out how they react to your content and messages. Best of all, you can do it without waiting for Google to catch up to your SEO efforts and see what the market thinks of your website and business.

You might find that your PPC ads generate positive feedback from customers right away. Even if they don’t, though, you’ll be gaining valuable information and insights that can help you cut time and money from your SEO campaigns later.

Create a Content Plan

Optimizing your existing web pages for visibility on Google, Bing, and the other search engines is just a first step. In order to grow your profile and attract lots of traffic, you’re going to have to publish new content on a regular basis.

For most business owners, that means generating blog posts or hiring someone who can write them for you on a weekly basis. However, you can also use video, infographics, and other forms of content to attract visitors and search spiders.

In order to be sure your content feeds into your overall conversion plan, and to stave off writer’s block, it’s a good idea to plan your posts ahead of time. Consider kicking off your SEO campaigns with an editorial calendar that extends out at least a few months into the future.

Watch Your Web Metrics

SEO AnalyticsOnce you optimize your website, test your campaign elements, and begin publishing new content to your website regularly, traffic will begin to flow your way. That’s a good sign, and an indicator that you should keep up the good work.

More visits to your pages means more information about what buyers want. So, as your website gets busier, be sure to keep a close eye on your web metrics to find out how visitors are arriving, which pages or topics they are gravitating to, and how often they are turning into sales or leads. The information you get will be crucial to improving your website going forward.

Grow and Adjust Your Website

As your search engine optimization campaigns get to be more and more effective, you might want to take on new areas of the market. That means starting with this process again from the beginning, looking for ways to boost traffic, visibility, or revenue.

Additionally, you need to remember that Google’s algorithm isn’t static. Search engine optimization best practices are changing all the time, and keeping ahead of your competitors means staying informed about new trends or observations. It helps if you can keep producing content in the midst of all of this. If that sounds like a lot to handle, then consider our final piece of advice below.

Get Help From an Experienced Online Marketing Team

Despite what some of our competitors might tell you, you can put together a winning search engine optimization campaign on your own. There are some technical details and finer points to be mastered, but improving your Google visibility is mostly about finding the right targets (in terms of search terms and customers) and then developing great content.

However, the level of focus and precision that’s needed can be overwhelming to most business owners, especially considering they already have too much to think and worry about. That’s why almost every successful SEO effort is guided by an experienced and committed online marketing team.

If you’re tired of hearing hype from vendors and want to work with a web design partner who will make bottom-line improvement in your business their first priority, we are ready to help. Call or email us today to set up a free consultation and see how we’ve helped other small businesses to make the most of search engines, social media, email, and so much more!

Responsive Web Design

What is Responsive Web Design?

By | Client Services, Creative Services, Search Engine Optimization, Website Design and Development, Wordpress Development | No Comments

jbm_web_designResponsive web design means making a website look eye-popping on a desktop computer, and on a smartphone or tablet. For the most part this is easier said than done. A website looks different on a mobile device. That means that you, or your design firm, need to put a conscious effort into making a website responsive. It’s no longer enough to simply make a website look great on a computer.

For example, imagine that you have an article about the tourism industry in Rhode Island. Your website is probably going to include lots of pictures. These pictures may look excellent on a computer, and too small on a smartphone. To make a website responsive, a web design firm might take one large picture of Providence or Newport and replace it with two smaller ones. On a mobile screen these will stack on top of each other, creating a better user experience.

Why is it Important to Have a Responsive Website?

Having a responsive website is important because of how many people access the internet from a mobile device. In 2015, 1.9 billion people will use the internet on a smartphone or tablet. In fact, 25% of people worldwide will only access the internet from a mobile platform. That’s a huge share of internet users that you cannot afford to not cater to.

The problem with traditional web design is that 44% of people claim that navigating a site on a mobile device is difficult. If a smartphone user has a problem accessing a site they’re going to be less likely to return. This is especially true for potential customers who only use the internet from a smartphone or tablet.

Another reason it’s important to have a responsive website is that it will increase your search engine rating. Google and other search engines check websites to see if they are compatible with mobile platforms. If they are, they’re more likely to send traffic to your site. If you’re selling a product, mobile traffic can be lucrative, as 69% of tablet users report using their device to make a purchase in the last thirty days.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Website?

If you don’t have a website yet then you want to be sure to talk to your web designer about creating a responsive site. You should ask them about their experience with making responsive pages and about how they will make your site easy to use on a mobile platform. The firm you’re talking to should be able to confidently answer all your questions.

On the other hand, there are two easy ways you can improve your website if you already have one. The simplest way is to load your website on your phone and go through it page by page, creating a list of problems that you encounter. For example, some text may be too small to read, certain images might render poorly, or it may be difficult to click different links. Take that list of problems to your web designer and work through them.

Another way to improve your website is to analyze it using this tool from Google. It will assess your website and point out any potential problems that a mobile user may face. This tool is useful because you’ll know exactly what you need to fix in order to increase your Google search ranking.

Having a responsive website means that it will look as good on a smartphone as it does on a desktop computer. Google rankings aside, you should have the final say in how a page appears on a mobile platform. Owing to the huge number of mobile users today, it’s important that your brand makes a positive impression.

Sources

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/responsive-web-design

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/01/guidelines-for-responsive-web-design/

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/designing-for-mobile-devices/

 

Understanding Local SEO for Business

By | Search Engine Optimization | No Comments

Local SEO for Businesses

RI SEO ServicesEvery business can agree that SEO is useful. In fact, every minor and major business with an online presence has incorporated SEO into their marketing strategy. As such, getting to the top of national search engine results has become a whole lot of competition. And it’s not all about the position, but about the traffic. You may be ranked #1 and get 100 views, or be ranked #7, and get your business 1000 views. Which is more important? The traffic, of course. In addition, you’ll want organic traffic that converts.

For small businesses operating around their vicinity, competing with global brands beats purpose. Look at it this way: When you compete for a keyword related to your products (like home furniture) on a national scale, you’re competing with every similar company in the country for traffic. In addition, you may be offering services only in a specific reason. As such, competing on a national scale expends a lot of time and resources. And these do not necessarily translate into revenue. Hence the need for local SEO.

Small Business SEO-How it Works

Local SEO is basically the process of optimizing a business for a specific geographic location; and a specific category or range of services being offered. It’s a strategy of highly targeting a specific niche. That way, not only are you getting loads of traffic, you’re getting useful traffic. The organic traffic to your site will convert to revenue.

Google and other search engines are quickly adapting to the trend. That’s why they’re collecting increased amount of information about the locations and search histories of their users. They are doing everything in their power to give the users local-specific results. Over 70% of Google search is in one way or another tied to a local-oriented search’. In addition, 46% of searchers use mobile technology for their searches, and majority of the mobile searches are local specific. This means that a small company can outrank one with national authority simply because of its proximity to the searcher.

One also needs to regularly monitor business analytics. This is in order to understand the tactics that are best suited for a particular niche. SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) are checked out from time to time to keep a constant view on the changes, and to figure out the reason why they’ve happened. This may look daunting, and is why there are professional local SEO providers-to do the heavy lifting for your business.

Why Small Businesses need Local SEO

Small business SEO means that entrepreneur deal with less competition. When your site is optimized for local searches, you will be far more valuable to the smaller population. Getting more in tune with the local scene increases your local visibility. Frequent publishing of interesting and valuable content about your neighborhood, region or city makes you more noticeable to local news reporters and fellow entrepreneurs. Couple the online presence to a ground-level local exposure, and you’ll have a highly loyal market.

“What about cost?” you ask. Local SEO for small businesses is simpler and more cost friendly than most entrepreneurs think. For instance, one of the steps taken is listing on all free local directories such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Google My Business, Yelp and Trip Advisor. Next is acquiring inbound links from local and community sites, and improving on your social media presence. Attending local events to get the community writing about your business attendance wouldn’t hurt either.

Remember: the greatest SEO results are seen when you think about your users. With superb and high quality content, you’ll get loyal customers both on and off-line.

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Recieve Weekly articles and news delivered to your email packed with value on Digital Marketing, Seach Engine Optimization, Lead Generation and more.

This information will never be shared for third part