Correcting 3 Mistakes Your Small Business Might Be Making with SEO and Branding

Correcting 3 Mistakes Your Small Business Might Be Making with SEO and Branding

Sometimes, in seeking to be a competitor with major players, you underutilized strategies that your small business can capitalize on for SEO and branding.

In the attempts to gain more visibility online, it is often difficult to be certain of the tools to utilize, the methods to target and measuring results effectively, particularly so, when you are consumed with your small business’ daily operations. There may also be budget constraints as well and so a limited margin for error.

All of the above added to the confusing nature of SEO, a field where many companies promise to improve your rankings, but very few able to achieve, often cause many small business owners to wonder about the direction to take with regards to their small business’ SEO. Let us explore some things you do not want to do as a small business professional:

 

Mistake #1 – Not Selecting A Specific Target Market

It helps to have an area of focus when approaching branding. This area is typically called your niche.

You may believe that gaining ranking for as wide a variety of keywords as is possible would maximize your impact, as your visibility would be high for a variety of search terms. For example, if your business is a bakery, you might face the temptation to target terms like cake making, cake decoration, pastries, bakery, baked goods, cake delivery and so on.

While it is true that all those keywords apply to your business and the variety of keywords may cause you to rank for more search terms, your relevancy for each will be low. When competing with businesses with budgets that are lavish, have content the size of your entire site and a longstanding client base, your moves need to be more calculated and strategic.

Allocating resources to a few keywords, perhaps cake decoration, cake making, and pastries will increase the likelihood of you ranking higher for those particular terms.

 

Mistake #2 – Underestimating How Important Local SEO Is

In line with the first mistake, you not only need to focus on particular searches but also the area in which those searches are taking place. Having a huge audience is good just ensure it is the right audience.

Take, for example, Wal-Mart, which has a location in nearly every area. A perk that small businesses have over big corporations, is knowledge of the issues and needs of a specific local area that a chain brand without ties locally will hardly be aware of.

As a result, you need to ensure that Google knows your location and uses that information to your best advantage. This results in your business appearing on more search engine result pages, within a very relevant, specific demographic.

A lot of the steps in optimizing local SEO are pretty straightforward. These include creating Yahoo and Google local place pages for your business with detailed address and contact information. When customers post reviews on your place pages this helps to increase your rankings too, because this is among the first things an individual sees after your place page comes up.

Having reviews help to promote your business to prospective customers, and Google’s algorithm takes local reviews into account during ranking, so it is a win-win situation.

 

Mistake #3 – Starting Late

SEO planning can be overwhelming. It is advantageous to start planning your SEO strategy when you are in the process of developing your business plan.

We will agree that in the early stages of starting your business, you a lot on your plate. You may begin to think that aggressive pursuit of SEO for small business does not need to be undertaken early on in the process.

Truthfully speaking, though, the more time that passes between your startup and your SEO strategy development the harder it becomes to start and finish.

When you leave creating digital content and establishing relationships with other resources on the web (which is very helpful to your rankings) for a later date, you will have more to catch up on and your competitors would have had more time to use these and other tools to get ahead. In a perfect (or nearly perfect world), you would have SEO and digital marketing fitted somewhere in your business plan. If you don’t, get cracking on it as soon as the business starts. When you are competing against large corporations you need to monitor and adjust to content and digital marketing.

Choosing and sticking to your niche, promotion of your location and development of a digital marketing and branding procedure from early stages are all strategies that sometimes get neglected and overlooked within the small business sector. Within a competitive market, just as important as knowing what you have is knowing how to use it. You must be aware of how to use your assets, in relation to your company’s size to gain the best advantage.

Need help with your SEO and digital branding? Contact Us and let’s chat about your situation!

Is Your Current Web Design In Line with Your Brand?

Is Your Current Web Design In Line with Your Brand?

Have you ever wondered whether your firm’s website design is in line with your brand? If you haven’t, you need to evaluate. Here are five points that you can use to evaluate and determine if your web design and your brand are really in line.

Before evaluating your site, you need to consider what the current website says about your company. After you have, eliminate the things that you do not want it to say and consider what you would like it to say. You could ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the design current or out-dated? Does it say that your brand is new and dynamic or old, and behind time?
  • How is the website’s adaptability and responsiveness? Incompatibility with the types of devices that people will use to gain access to your site, may imply that your brand rigidity or inflexibility on the part of your brand.
  • Does your web design make navigation easy or difficult? No doubt, your brand is all for making it as easy as possible for clients to work along with you. Your web design should convey that message.
  • Is the information, especially the basic contact information, on your site still accurate?

Having gone through those questions, let’s now dive a bit deeper into the elements of design that change overtime and can be used to measure your brand.

Logos

Logos have a tendency to evolve over time for various reasons. This is totally normal. Many huge companies have had different ‘versions’ of their logo. With a logo’s evolution, however, it becomes harder to keep track of everywhere the logo will appear and ensure that they are all up-to-date. Ensure that all the logos appearing on your site are the currently approved versions that are in use by your brand.

Remember logos should be:
– Strategically and correctly placed (usually at the top of your site)
– Clear and crisp
– Appropriately sized and resizable
– Distinct and memorable

Typefaces

Typefaces are one of the areas where less is more. It can prove challenging to choose a few from the various typefaces and fonts that exist. Even more challenging may be choosing fonts that go well with each other. When those typefaces have been chosen, they should be set forth in the brand guidelines. These should state clearly the typefaces and fonts that should be used in every brand design and should ALWAYS be adhered to on your site. It may not appear to be a big issue, but users will identify any inconsistencies in the fonts and/or typefaces and that will definitely shape how they see your brand.

Colors

The brand guidelines should typically cover brand colors that are acceptable. The brand colors may not be done up in a formal document however, most likely you know what they are. Take as an example, Cisco, which uses a specific blue color palette that their Color Guidelines lists. Hardly could you expect to visit a Cisco site and see red, yellow or orange, simply because that is not what we see associated with their brand.

Are the colors on your firm’s website consistent with its brand colors?

Imagery

Imagery is more than just the pictures on a website. It encompasses animations, banners, icons, info graphics, and videos. Service-based businesses often are not able to utilize product-based imagery. As a result, their tendency is to utilize pictures of individuals carrying out tasks or making use of services to perform tasks. The imagery that is most in line with your brand is that which should be seen in your web design. The imagery used should be kept consistent as well. A website with a jumble of differing image types can prove confusing.

Messaging

What is the overall message on the site? What is it that you want to subtly or overtly get users to do? Are the benefits calls to action, language used and statements harmonious with the brand message? Every single element, as well as the layout of textual elements should show a measure of uniformity in order to convey a cohesive story.

After your firm has surmounted the first hurdle of defining the main value proposition of the brand, the next step is to maintain that defined proposition throughout the messaging on the site. If the message of your website is not in line with the message of your brand, it may be time to think about revamping.

Consistency, navigability and responsiveness are all things that your prospective customers want to see on your website. Ensure that you implement these in all website elements. Be sure too to evaluate your site from time to time so you can be on top of your game.

Need help with branding? Contact us for a free evaluation!

3 Simple Yet Often Overlooked Digital Marketing Opportunities For Franchises

3 Simple Yet Often Overlooked Digital Marketing Opportunities For Franchises

Marketing for local search is complicated. Of course, we know that the standard SEO strategies like highly optimized meta tags, content with a good keyword density, as well as a strong backlink profile are always necessary. For franchises with multiple locations, there are added complexities of proactively managing Google My Business data and citation development, Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) accuracy, and maintaining and distributing local business listings. The more competitive the market the more challenging all of this becomes.

This article will explore three tactics that are oftentimes overlooked or neglected by digital marketers for franchises but present significant opportunities.

1. Proactive management of data on local business listing

Arguably, maintaining the accuracy and consistency of data regarding your local business across the web may pose the most difficulty in local search. Proactively reviewing and managing such data become a must with the frequent automatic updates made by Google and other directories. In order to accomplish this, franchise marketers need, to begin with, an accurate database or list of hours of operation, NAP, and other crucial business data for all locations.

Within the United States, it is essential to make sure that the data held by these four major aggregators of data Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup, Localeze, is both accurate and consistent. Frequent reviews of your local businesses listed on these sites must be conducted and duplicated and/or inaccurate data addressed.

It helps to use a tool to achieve this often neglected task to monitor a business operating from multiple locations. Tools can help with the streamlining of the process of locating and identifying missing, inaccurate or duplicate citations. Tools that can be used include SweetIQWhitespark Citation Finder, and  Bright Local

Proactively managing business data presents an opportunity that is missed by many franchises. Many franchises do not allocate enough energy and time to local listings. This may be as a result of the complexity of the systems, the frequently changing market and the huge volume of work that goes along with the management of many locations.

2. Maintain individuality of local businesses by creating local business pages with unique content

All businesses and franchises with multiple locations should have an integrated location finder on its website. Many franchises miss out on opportunities in the displayed results for location searches. These search results are often not able to be indexed by search engines which not only lets a big local SEO opportunity slide but only offers very basic information that really is not very helpful to the prospective customer.

It is very helpful to customers when each business location has an indexable web page of its own containing essential local information like the name, phone number, hours of operation, address, email address, a Google Map showing the business’ location and customized content.

Try to keep local content on each of the pages unique. Franchises have a great opportunity to ensure that each of these pages for local stores offers unique content about the store’s nearby landmarks, neighborhood, location, parking and other features unique to a particular location. Another feature that proves to be a help to prospective customers is an image of the actual storefront.

3. Develop and Implement a Monitoring, Review and Response Strategy

Many franchises or multi-location businesses tend to overlook managing their reputation and reviews as a digital marketing strategy. No longer are people calling businesses to air their grouses or complaints. Nowadays, individuals tend to share their pleasure or displeasure on local business listings. You may not pay attention to these reviews but the people deciding whether or not to enter into business with you do.

It is critical for businesses with many locations to proactively monitor and respond to reviews for every location— especially the negative reviews. On Google My Business, and Yelp, a rating in terms of stars is now shown in the knowledge graph in the upper right of the Search Engine Results Page when individuals enter a branded search for a particular local business.

Third-party tools are also useful for the management of reviews for multiple locations. SweetIQ and Bright Local have platforms that are very good for monitoring reviews. You may also want to give attention to developing a solid strategy for attaining new, positive reviews on local business directories. Selecting a handful of directories that are most important for your business is a good place to start and then expansions can follow. Always a great starting point is Google My Business.

Develop and maintain your competitive advantage

Many franchises are not:

Maintaining the accuracy of all their local business listings

Creating individual pages for each location with unique content

Monitoring and managing customer reviews actively

This means, therefore, that businesses with many locations that are willing to put in the work can gain a real competitive advantage.

Give attention to these important areas as often as is possible because updates, changes, and problems are unavoidable, but you can minimize the impact. Where possible and advantageous, use third-party tools in managing the volume of individual business location data.

8 Ways To Boost Your Ecommerce Traffic & Sales

8 Ways To Boost Your Ecommerce Traffic & Sales

In days gone by, simply having an online shop guaranteed you extra profit. Those days are gone. To be a viable competitor in today’s dynamic marketplace, you just cannot afford to overlook some things, no matter how small or insignificant you may believe they are.

Here are 8 great starting points to help you boost your business’ e-commerce success.

Landing Pages

When persons click on your ads, they don’t necessarily want to see all the products you offer or even learn about your business. They may just genuinely be interested in the product they see advertised. Therefore, you need to direct paid traffic to product landing pages, not the homepage. You may also want to direct paid traffic to categories matching the user’s intent. Landing page optimization is a must.

Speed

In this fast-paced world, people appreciate speed in everything and rightly so. If your website is not very fast in loading or responding, this can lead to page abandonment. Page abandonment is an annoyance for any website, but a disaster for sales-based sites especially if you can do something to stop it – and you can.

Ensure that your checkout process is fast and intuitive as well. Lengthy and overly complicated checkout processes lead to abandonment. After you have accomplished the tasks of grabbing the customer’s attention and stocking or sourcing the item(s) and the customer has already identified what he/she needs this is a total waste.

Choosing the least expensive defaults for shipping and other paid options, making sign in or resuming easier for returning customers, and using smart algorithms that eliminate a step are all ways to shorten checkout. An easy example is the credit card type. This can be determined easily using the number’s first few digits. Save your customers time by not asking for it!

SEO and Product descriptions

Ensure that product descriptions are original, engaging and based on what users normally search (ask) for.

For SEO purposes, search engines will return results based on its index and well-chosen keywords within your product description help you to be found and can also push your page high up on the list of results. Original product descriptions motivate persons to return to your site and also help to prevent search engines filtering your site out as spam.

Site-wide search

Being successful in getting customers onto your site is not all. Your site needs to be developed and designed in such a way that they can easily locate whatever product(s) they are looking for on your page. This is very vital for you to close the sale. The best way to get this done is using a search function that is simple, user-friendly and strategically located. Use every possible aspect of design to make it outstanding: cursor focus, color, placement, and don’t forget white space. Ensure that you complete your own on-site keyword analysis with a view to improving descriptions.

Avoid shocking shipping costs

Always let your customers be aware of your true shipping cost. Half of those who abandon their carts are repelled by shipping costs. This may be because shipping costs were excluded too long or the purchase doesn’t qualify for free shipping. Your customers are going to pay the cost anyway so why shouldn’t they see it before they decide to buy. Let them know the cost, and if you care that much do your best to keep them minimal.

Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile devices are being used more frequently than Pc’s and even laptops. Therefore, your e-commerce site must be optimized for tablets and phones. Ensure that your site is responsive to facilitate easy viewing and purchase on a mobile device.

Social Media

Don’t be afraid to use social media sites to drive sales on your site. Don’t just use the regulars like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can check out Pinterest as well. It has the highest average order value than any other major channel and is a source of many Shopify referrals.

Make your site disability friendly

You need to remember that your site is for everyone. This means that you will need to make the site so that those with special needs can use it. As you go along, you will find ways to make it easier for them to use.

Good places to start are using appropriate colors for actions to be taken eg. Red for cancel, green for ok and blue for a hypertext link. You can also allow for the sizes of text and images to be changed or zoomed without upsetting the layout. Keyboard shortcuts are great to aid navigation as well as to allow a visually impaired person to navigate. Using correct elements will make your site friendly to screen readers as well.

Being a viable e-commerce competitor is becoming more difficult, the consolation is that fortunes still can be made. Sometimes change is good. You must change to keep up with the current trends. The above tips will help you to capitalize where other sites may fall short.

Want to drive more traffic and get more sales on your ecommerce website? We can help! Contact Us today, and let’s chat about your needs and how we can assist you.

What Should My Business Be Doing on Social Media in 2017?

What Should My Business Be Doing on Social Media in 2017?

Anybody can use social media but not everybody uses it effectively. In the business world, this is a serious thing. If you have an individual or group of individuals employed to manage your social media connections, you want to know that they are getting it right every time. If you are doing it yourself, you need to know exactly what to focus on.

Why is social media important?

The fact that you are reading this means you should be over this question, but in case you aren’t here’s a few reasons why.

  1. Most of the basic features are without a charge. Yes, free. This matters if you know anything about marketing because good marketing is not cheap. Social media can provide excellent marketing opportunities at a low cost.
  2. Almost everybody is using it. Not only are social media sites filled with users, they seem to be online all the time. This is good as your posts can be seen instantly.
  3. You get instant feedback. Don’t waste money handing out questionnaires. Get your most pertinent questions answered digitally and in real time.
  4. You know who is interested in your brand and you get an idea of how interested they are.

 

There is an art to making use of social media in the right way. No matter if you are a small company or a big company, you can make it work. Over the years, a craze about likes, views and followers has developed. Some businesses though still expend the largest amounts from their marketing budgets on print and television. For 2017 though, that needs to change.

Things to do

When you get on social media, here is what you may want to focus on:

1. Use video better

Do video content the correct way. Spend money to make your videos great. Don’t worry about the cost of promoting them. Great videos will promote themselves.

Live videos are your friends. Use them carefully and wisely. They encourage personal engagement. Live videos allow you to broadcast to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Videos are appealing to the audience and are able to capture moments that words just can’t. Your audience will be more likely to share them and they can be very persuasive.

2. Use banner branded videos

These seem to be the trend right now and they work. The banners actually get people to click and if you phrase them right, your viewers will watch right to the end. Something like “You won’t believe what this product did” or “Savage but great ending” or even “Wait for it”.

3. Engage, engage, engage

In addition to writing top-notch content, you have to pull your followers in. Get them to participate in something and there are several ways in which you can do this. Requesting feedback is one of them.

In the end, you can evaluate your effectiveness in this regard by:

  • Follower Participation – What portion of your following actually reads and comments on your posts? Comments mean your audience is engaged and what they say will tell you whether you are getting where you need to be or not.
  • Shares – A large number of shares says that your audience is spreading your message and loves your post.
  • Conversion – How many of these followers actually take you up on your call to action and do what you direct them to do? Do they click the links to your site?  Are they purchasing your product or signing up for your newsletter? How many of your followers really become leads?

4. Collaborate

Collaboration represents the fastest way to grow. To grow your social media following you must collaborate. Find successful people, throw content ideas around and write together. You can incorporate what works for them into your strategy so you not only appeal to the people who already follow you but to a different crowd altogether.

5. Optimize for mobile

Most social media platforms are not only optimized for mobile but also available as a mobile app. Ensure that your links as much as possible are mobile responsive. Make mobile ads. Just mobile everything.

6. Check out Instagram Business Tools

Although this isn’t the most talked about features, it is still worth investigating. Instagram took the time out to determine what businesses need. The business profiles allow you access to analytics and to create ads from posts within the app. These tools will make it easier for your business to drive revenue and traffic.

7. Be available to your customers and offer great response times

Facebook now informs your customers of your typical response times. You can also set up auto response and list your availability hours on both Facebook and Twitter. Make use of any customer service options available to you on your platform of choice.

8. Paid social media advertising

There comes a time when you will nearly exhaust your marketing capacity using the basic free features of the social media platform. Don’t wait until the free features aren’t driving traffic for you. Run a paid advertisement campaign every now and then. In so doing, you will identify what time is the best for you.

In using paid advertisements, you need to become more adept at creating new ideas so you can reach new audiences. On the downside, the increasing number of people that will opt for paid advertisements will cause their cost to rise, so you may need to set a bit more aside within your budget.

9. YouTube

YouTube is a great way to build your following and earn a few dollars while you are at it. Really then what do you have to lose? Add your YouTube channel link to your other social media pages and your other marketing efforts like business cards etc… Otherwise, you can advertise here minus the responsibility of creating videos. The choice is yours.

Social media has come a very far way. Don’t get left behind. Keep up with the trends that your followers are most fond of. Don’t be afraid to invest your time and money into social advertising and selling. You’ll be glad you did.

 

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