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Business Website Essentials

Telling a small business owner to “assume the perspective of your customer” is one of those classic easier said than done problems. It’s not for lack of trying, but owning a small business isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. And when you put that level of passion and commitment into something, your unique familiarity with it can be tough to shake.

Yet this is the simplest way to quickly optimize your website. By deeply considering your customer’s perspective and buying journey, we can make decisions that put everything in the right place for the customer to easily and quickly complete their interaction with your business and maybe even leave a nice review to boot.

While it’s absolutely essential to have each of these elements be part of your website, the specifics of their presentation need to be in consideration of your specific customer demographics. Most notably will be the difference between information on an online store, where the priority is to drive sales, versus a traditional brick and mortar business, where the priority is to get them to visit you.


The must haves

Contact information

Much of your web traffic will be coming from customers looking to use your website as a tool to communicate with you. Whether by email, phone or in person, the information that helps them accomplish this needs to be a top priority. Placing an easily found “contact us” link in the top right corner of your website is never a bad move. But if your customers aren’t web savvy, consider putting your address, phone number and hours of operation right on the home page. Additionally, if your business location is a little off the beaten path, consider using a map application on your website to help people better understand your location.

Product information

This is a growing priority for small businesses online, as a huge number of searches now happen on mobile with the intent of “in the moment” product research, sometimes even in-store. This means that the more specific information you can have online about what you sell, the better. This may even lead to customer conversions while they are in a competitor’s store.

Keeping an up-to-date and functional product catalog online can be a lot of work, but it is most certainly worthy of consideration given the potential value. This is particularly important if your demographic skews younger and more web savvy.

Business description

Give a quick, easy-to-find snapshot of your business and history available for people interested in learning a little more about you. Keep in mind, if people are looking at this part of your website, they are likely close to buying. Make sure you put in a little marketing effort here to help seal the deal. Make it concise but include things like business history, location, relevant achievements and philosophy. It’s also not a bad idea to include customer testimonials if you have them.

Quicklinks to social channels

Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all great tools to help foster a direct line of communication between your business and its biggest fans. Your website should prioritize getting those follows and likes as easy as possible by installing a quick link widget into the footer or header of your website. That way, no matter where you customer goes on the site they are always one click away from connecting with you on Social.

Content/media

It’s becoming more and more common to see small businesses feature active content strategies and it’s easy to see why:

  1. Content is authentic – No one likes being sold to, and content is a great way for a business to build a relationship while leaving the hard sell on the shelf.
  2. Content is made for local – A good content strategy can help a business establish itself as grounded in its local area through authentic stories that are for and about their community.
  3. Content is hyper-targeted – Based on how you answered the first three questions your website, at least a little, is likely targeting customers at a specific part of the sales funnel. Having a fully realized content strategy allows you to add balance to your site. For example, if your site is designed to drive new sales, perhaps the content can be targeted towards customer retention by adding value to those people already in the fold.

Easy content strategy win = how-to videos

These can be extremely effective and easy to produce. Plus, creating how-to videos gives you the platform to demonstrate your expertise. Double-win if it’s related to your business.


Putting it all together with design

When considering design and layout, it’s completely appropriate to look at it as an opportunity to infuse some of your business’s personality into your website’s look and feel. But heed this warning: design is where it’s most critical to consider the customer’s perspective. Too often small business owners create a website that works perfectly for themselves while failing to consider how it will work for their customers.

Here are two top level considerations when choosing a design.

Mobile functionality is king

This has to be top of mind at every stage of design. While most modern design templates are mobile functional, it’s worth taking second looks at the ones that do it best. And if you haven’t updated your website since the inception of the smartphone, you might want to think about a redesign.

Keep it simple

You may have noticed that this article really pushes the need for priorities. With that in mind, consider putting only the most crucial information on the home page. Your home page must include easy links to: contact info, product info and business description. After that, it becomes really dependent on your goals and objectives. But when considering the perspective of your customer, oftentimes less is more.

Build for speed

By keeping things simple and prioritizing mobile functionality you are likely also building for speed. But this point is critical enough that it bares repeating. Your site needs to be fast! According to a study from Forrester Consulting 40% of shoppers will wait no longer than 3 seconds of load time before abandoning a retail website. As well, Google uses load time as factor in determining your search rank so a slow site might even be keeping customers from finding you when they look online.


Final thoughts

All in all, it’s a pretty swell time to be building a website for your business. Hosting is cost effective and secure, design templates have never looked nicer, and there is plenty of great content out there to help guide you through the process. But if you are ever curious if your website is serving you well, just follow this tip from Kevin Lao at Google: take out your phone, pull up your site and ask yourself “do you like what you see?” Now go to your closest competitor’s site and ask yourself the same question. Your answer will tell you all you need to know.

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What is SEO and Why Does It Matter?

Search Engine Optimization—or SEO—is a term that may sound scary at first, but is simple when you break it down. It’s the process of optimizing your online content (website, blog or otherwise) for search engine algorithms like Google’s. Search engine algorithms are what look at all the content on the web, and lay it out on the search engine results pages. This is where your business will get found, or be lost in the world of “second page and beyond.” Your business’ SEO efforts are what determines your SERP (search engine results page) ranking, and consequently, determines how “findable” you are online to your customers.

Still confused? Basically, SEO is the process of tweaking your website, blog and other online content so that Google, Bing and other search engines will put you at the top of the search results page when customers start looking for you online.


Basic SEO terms

SERP

Stands for Search Engine Results Page. The list of results that search engines formulate and present to the user after a search is made. Your SERP rank is where your website/content appears on the list of results.

Backlink

When one webpage hyperlinks to another website; very popular in blogging and creative writing. The more backlinks your website gets, the better your SERP rank!

Keyword

A word or phrase that a consumer enters in search. Your website and content should be optimized to draw in the consumers who are searching for specific keywords. E.g “best hairdresser Texas”

Metadata

Data that tells the search engines what your web page/content is about. This helps the search engine algorithms know if your content is relevant to what the consumer is looking for.


Why does SEO matter to my business?

If you’re thinking “well, that doesn’t matter for my business,” then you’re wrong! Optimizing your website and blog content with the right keywords, meta data and other SEO factors will be hugely beneficial to your business.

If you play your SEO cards right, it will get your business found when customers ask Google and Bing about things relevant to your business. If you’re a Texan hairdresser, SEO can help you be found whether local Texans are searching “www.yourhairdresser.com (you)” or “best hairdresser Texas,” or even “where should I get my hair cut?”!

Here are the four biggest reasons you should care about SEO, no matter what your business is.

Traffic

If one person types in “best hairdresser in Texas” into Google, and your business is at the top, then they’re likely going to click on your name. But there isn’t just one person Googling that term—there are thousands. Each person who clicks on your name from Google is another boost to your website traffic, and more potential business and sales for you! Hello SEO, hello more traffic, hello higher revenue!

Offering helpful solutions for customers

Optimizing your content for specific keywords like “hairstyle tips” or “best hair for my faceshape” means that when a customer goes to Google to find answers to their questions, they’ll find you. Creating a name for yourself in your industry as a helpful, informative brand will improve your reputation, and get more customers flocking your way!

SEO makes marketing easier (and cheaper)

If a customer can find you at the top of Google by typing in “best hairdresser Dallas,” then why would you need to pay for ad space at the top of the page? SEO is what determines where your business appears on Google, so optimizing your content for the search engines just makes sense when it comes to where you spend your marketing bucks.

Don’t give business to your competitors

Still not sure why you should use SEO? Well here’s a big one—if you don’t implement SEO tactics for your business, then it’s your competitors who will be found when local customers go looking. Someone has to be at the top page of Google, right? If you’re not employing SEO tactics for your business, then it will be your competitors who show up when your potential customer turns to Google for advice and answers.


Search Engine Optimization is important to consider when creating and publishing any kind of online content—whether it’s your business website, blog or otherwise. The better your business gets at optimizing your content for SEO, the more likely you are to be seen online, and the more business you’ll get to your storefront!

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What are Listings and Why Do They Matter?

Listings are an online summary of essential information for your business that serve as a powerful tool to help customers find you online and in real life. Here’s what you need to know:

NAP+W

No, we didn’t fall asleep on the keyboard. NAP+W is the acronym that explains all the information that should be included in business listings.

Name
Address
Phone number
+
Website

These four pieces of information are the business listings starter-pack. They provide the basic information potential customers need to have in order to research, contact and locate your business.

Want to score some major bonus points? Include information like hours of operation in business listings—it’s what consumers are most interested in!


Will my listings work?

The effectiveness of a business listing depends on the information’s presence and accuracy. Listings are available through a variety of sources, including search engines, online directories and maps, or social sites. When it comes to listings presence, more is definitely better. Availability on as many sources as possible will create multiple avenues for consumers to find your business. But (and this is a big but), presence only pays off if the listings are accurate. Listings are accurate if the information is correct and consistent across all potential sources. Seems easy enough, right?


Why are listings important?

Listings with good presence and accuracy will undoubtedly pay off for your business. Here’s how:

No more hide and seek

Just as the brightly lit bat signal guides everyone’s favorite caped crusader (that’s right Superman, we said it!), accurate and readily available listings will help guide consumers right to your business’s door steps.

They even have similar shapes. Coincidence? We think not…

If a business’s listing is incorrect or missing, the majority of consumers will feel less confident about the brand, likely leading them to choose a competitor’s product or service. The availability of accurate listings ensures customers are actually able to find brick and mortar locations while they’re open for business. This means money in the business owner’s pocket and, just as importantly, it means the business can be reviewed.

“In my humble opinion…”

An ample review pipeline is an essential tool for developing a business’ online reputation and fostering brand loyalty. Reviews allow customers to communicate their experience with a business to potential buyers, but if consumers can’t find a business listed online, their opinion of it won’t be well-informed. Accurate listings create the opportunity for transparency between businesses and consumers in the form of reviews, and the availability of this information will help increase a business’s visibility.

All aboard the search engine

Consistent, accurate listings and the generation of reviews will directly benefit a business’s visibility by boosting its ranking in local search engine results. Search engine optimization is a complex tool, so why not take advantage of it by simply ensuring your business is listed accurately! Increased visibility means more customers, and what business owner doesn’t want that?


Now what?

This listings low-down provides a basic definition and describes the benefits of business listings. Create listings on sites worth lots of points to improve your listings score. We’ve ranked them by importance using a lot of key factors—how many sites reference them, traffic, demographics and more.

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Review Management Best Practices

Why your business needs to stop removing reviews

1) People can tell your business is filtering the reviews.

68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores (Econsultancy, 2012). Customers are more review savvy and can spot when things look too good to be true. 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores (Reevoo, 2015).

2) It looks fishy, like your business has something to hide.

30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews (Webrepublic). Only 8% of consumers expect a business to have a 5-star rating before they will consider using them (Brightlocal, 2016). If there are only five star reviews on a review site, customers know that your business is grooming your reviews and assume it’s because your have something to hide.

3) Reviews that are removed will only anger customers trying to share their experience.

If your business doesn’t allow or encourage reviews, your customers that have something to say, good or bad, will find it odd that they can’t leave a review for your business. Customers can still leave reviews for unverified listings and profiles so just because your business can’t see the bad reviews, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

4) It looks like your business doesn’t value customers enough to win them back.

If your business doesn’t allow for feedback, it appears to customers that you don’t really care about them or value customer service. If customers can’t expect good service, don’t expect them to want to visit your business. Customers like to see businesses that are open to feedback and especially the businesses that are listening enough to try to win customers back.

5) It doesn’t give yours business an opportunity to win back their trust.

If a review isn’t published, it can be very infuriating to customers. If your business did fail the customer, it gives you a chance to win them back. Since your business is responding to the reviewer publicly, your business can possibly win them back as well as show other customers that you care about how you treat your customers. Customers like that.

6) Businesses are missing out on valuable feedback to improve.

While customers at times can be unrealistic with their expectations from a business, some can provide feedback on possible oversights. Oversights happen to the best of us and there is always room for improvement.


Situations when it is okay to gate reviews

Here are the situations when it is acceptable for your business to filter out which reviews are published:

1) When the review contains graphic material or inappropriate language.

If the review is inappropriate, contains explicit language or graphic material. Fortunately, many review sites are all over this, but if they happen to miss it, you can flag it as inappropriate.

2) When reviews are irrelevant to your business.

If a review doesn’t provide any mention or context to your business, products or services. Sometimes customers leave reviews but they really want to ask a question. If it really doesn’t add context as a review from a customer, it is okay to suppress that review.

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3) When reviews are spammy or someone is plugging another business.

If a review isn’t related to your business but is obviously spam, or if a person starts talking about their business instead of you business. In the example below, the review was for a direct competitor and was a case of mistaken identity.

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4) When the review is a fake or planted by a competitor (and your business knows it is).

In the case of review fraud, it is completely acceptable to suppress the review and remove it. In the example below, the person hasn’t ever been to the establishment, they just left a review that they read other reviews.

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Unfortunately, reviews have been used as blackmail and this sort of unscrupulous behavior does occur. The fact that this behavior is on the rise speaks to the importance of practising review management and using reputation management software. If you want help determining if a review is a fake or not, try the free Review Skeptic tool backed by research from Cornell University.

Again, Please Don’t Review-Stuff

The review below is an example of a business owner promoting his own business. There’s a lot of specific detail that even the most committed reviewer wouldn’t delve into. On top of that, the review is so long many people will probably just skim over.

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How can your business practice white-hat review management?

Here’s how your business can practice white-hat review management:

  1. Provide exceptional customer experiences
  2. Ask your customer to leave a review (in store signs, surveys, etc)
  3. Read and analyze the review. Does it meet the criterion to suppress or remove?
    1. If yes, remove and you are done managing the review
    2. If no, the review stays published
  4. Respond to the review
    1. If the review is positive, thank them for their feedback
    2. If the review is negative, try to move the conversation offline. Try to remedy the situation to win the customer back. If you have remedied the situation, try asking them to adjust their review. If not, then at least the customer may come back.

White hat review management visual guide

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Why it’s best to take the review management high-road

At the end of the day, people can tell that if your business is grooming your reviews if all of your reviews are too positive. From a consumer’s perspective, it is better to see a business with a mix of reviews, mostly positive but with some negatives as well. So long as a business is trying to remedy the situation by responding to the customer and following the proper review management protocols, it actually says more about the business than a business with all perfect five star reviews.

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Top 10 Review Websites to Get More Customer Reviews On

In the table below, U.S. Ranking, % U.S. Traffic and Average Monthly U.S. Traffic (unique visitors) data are sourced from Alexa. Businesses should strive to get business reviews on business review websites that are going concerns, review sites that people know about (and go to) and that are relatively friction-less (sites consumers have log ins or can go in easy to leave a review).

Review WebsiteU.S Alexa RankingReviews Best ForAvg. Monthly U.S Traffic% U.S Traffic (Total)
Google My Business1any business158.03 million34.30%
Facebook3any business85.57 million29.10%
Amazon4e-commerce related85.44 million55.40%
Yelp52any business40.47 million89.10%
Trip Advisor88related to food, restaurant, travel28.27 million53.40%
Yellowpages402any business10.5 million85.30%
BBB (Better Business Bureau)824any business6.15 million88.90%
Manta1,002any business6.48 million70.50%
Angies List1,150service related business5.44 million88.90%
Foursquare1,561any business, mostly restaurants3.67 million23.10%

Getting to know the top 10 review sites

No 1 review site: Google

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 158.03 million
US ranking (Alexa): 1
Business reviews for: any business

Google My Business is a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Google My Business puts business data on Search, Maps and Google+. Google customer reviews show up in search and are known to bolster SEO, so they are essential to the credibility of all businesses. Your business should aim to be on Google’s snack pack in order to be readily found when consumers perform a local search.


No 2 review site: Facebook

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 85.57 million
US ranking (Alexa): 3
Business reviews for: any business

Facebook is a social networking platform where users can create profiles, upload photos and videos, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and follow their favorite businesses and brands. Since customers are connecting more with brands online, It is pertinent that your business is actively monitoring your social media mentions on social media platforms at all times. Facebook is gaining momentum towards being one of the most popular business review sites. Most users on the site already have a Facebook account, so the process to leave a business review is relatively friction-less.


No. 3 review site: Amazon

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 85.44 million
US ranking (Alexa): 4
Business reviews for: e-commerce related transactions

Amazon is a popular go-to business review site for e-commerce products. For companies who do any amount of e-commerce, Amazon is a key source of information. While Amazon as a review website is more targeted and fitting for Amazon marketplace partners, it is a worthy site to note, especially for retailers about what customers like about certain products and how the service aspect of transactions were handled.


No. 4 review site: Yelp

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 40.47 million
US ranking (Alexa): 52
Business reviews for: any business

Yelp is a review website where users can publish reviews about local businesses. Yelp has become a name synonymous with business reviews, as the site has over 102 million reviews and counting. As the world’s largest outlet for online customer reviews grows, it might be time for all small businesses to start caring about what consumers are saying online; and more specifically, about their Yelp reviews.


No. 5 review site: TripAdvisor

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 28.27 million
US ranking (Alexa): 88
Business reviews for: any business

TripAdvisor is an travel website company where users can leave business reviews of places they’ve visited. Users can also book rooms, find flights, discover to do and reserve tables at participating restaurants. TripAdvisor operates websites internationally in over 25 countries.


No. 6 review site: Yellowpages

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 10.5 million
US ranking (Alexa): 402
Business reviews for: any business

YellowPages is an online internet yellow pages directory owned by YP. YP is a local marketing solutions provider that focuses on helping local businesses (and the communities within) grow.
Companies can manage their reviews on the review site after claiming a free business listing on their page.


No. 7 review site: Better Business Bureau

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 6.15 million
US ranking (Alexa): 824
Business reviews for: any business
The Better Business Bureau aims to help people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust (bbb.org).

Based on a business rating review system, BBB educates consumers and assists people in finding trusted businesses. The Better Business Bureau tries to protect consumers from fraudulent business or scammers. Company profiles on BBB contain a short company bio and a history of complaints made about the business, as well as an A – F rating.


No. 8 review site: Manta

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 6.48 million
US ranking (Alexa): 1,002
Business reviews for: any business

Manta is an online small business service directory, search engine and review site that provides small businesses with the information to network. The site helps small businesses connect and grow through their community where users can buy from, partner with, and connect to companies.


No. 9 review site: Angie’s List

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 5.44 million
US ranking (Alexa): 1,150
Business reviews for: service related businesses

Angie’s List is a service listing and review website that offers user-based rankings and reviews of service professionals in local areas. Because Angie’s List is a paid review site, it is known to be less filled with rambling reviews from customers and spam. Members grade companies using a report card scale from A-F on price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality, and professionalism. Angie’s List is divided by categories such as house, auto, health, pets and services.


No. 10 review site: Foursquare

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 3.67 million
US ranking (Alexa): 1,561
Business reviews for: any business, mostly restaurants

Foursquare is a local search and discovery service mobile app. The app helps users discover new places/businesses through other Foursquare business reviews. Users can let friends know where they are and find out where their friends are. In any case, with 55 million monthly active users, Foursquare is a powerful force to monitor customer loyalty and feedback.

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How to Avoid Having an Ugly Website

Websites are important for every business. In today’s digital age, having accessible online information is crucial for success. Just having a website isn’t enough, though. What matters is what’s on your website.

Website content needs to be geared toward making the consumer want to interact and engage with it. So, let’s take a look at what not to do when creating an appealing website, and I’ll show you what you should do instead along the way.

You’ve read this far for one of three reasons:

  • You want to learn how to optimize your website for the best consumer engagement and interaction
  • You’re worried that your website is ugly and came here for peace of mind that it isn’t
  • You had nothing better to do and the catchy title of this article made you blow a little air out of your nose, which, in today’s digital age, translates to one “lol”

No matter the reason, you’re here for a solution, so let’s dive right in. Before we discuss any more, take a look at this website: http://thebiguglywebsite.com/. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work!

Are your eyes bleeding yet? I wouldn’t blame you.

We know your website can’t possibly look this bad, and we also know that this website is TRYING to look bad. Now, what are the chances you scrolled down to see what was listed on this site? If they gave out a million dollars at the bottom for clicking a link, chances are that you wouldn’t have walked away with a penny.

Why is this? Consumers don’t want to engage with unattractive content. Think of your own website content for a moment. If somebody looked at it and felt the same way you just felt, do you think they would stay and interact with it? Probably not.

Start by thinking of all the things you’ve hated on websites you’ve visited in the past. Chances are, one or more of these was on your list. If they weren’t, they will be now.


1. Ugly domain

Do you find it easier to go back to a website with a simple domain like website.com (an example), or do you prefer to type in randomwebsite123.org/data0=184/net%/ (another example)? You may be saying, “But hey, I just Google the name and click on the link!” Sure that might work for you usually, but would you be happy having to find your favorite and most visited websites by Googling them every single day? You’re better off having a website that people can remember if they choose to. A consumer’s first impression of a website is largely design-related, so don’t you think some of the people in that category want to see a neat and tidy domain? Of course they do!

2. Long loading times

I considered leaving a bunch of blank space here so you would have to scroll down and waste your time to prove my point, but I decided to make you read this sentence instead.

Consumers hate waiting. This is the digital age of instant information. It takes consumers only a split second to form an opinion about your website. That tiny amount of time shouldn’t be spent on a blank loading screen! Even worse than that, if there is a long loading time every time a consumer tries to interact with your website or navigate the different pages, they are going to get increasingly annoyed.

Here is the worst case scenario: You have a consumer who is ready to buy from your online shop, they start gathering up products into their cart, then they get fed up with waiting and instead buy from your competitor. Want to avoid the tragedy? Keep it fast!

3. Complicated or overwhelming interface

Does your website have too many buttons on it? Are people being bombarded with information? People are being trained to ignore huge amounts of website content due to websites crawling with ads. Keep it simple and focus on important topics or focal points that they can engage with. With plenty of consumers abandoning a site due to poor design, you can’t afford to hide your crucial information in text-garbage. Don’t lose consumers because they can’t find where you hid the crucial information on your jumbled page.

4. Automatic music or videos

Many people listen to music while they work or surf in their free time. If you’ve ever noticed a little speaker icon on the right side of your internet tabs, it means that sound is coming from that page. Many people’s first instinct is to kill that tab because it’s forcing disruptive sound onto their experience, and autoplaying audio or visual content can cause valuable consumers to leave your site.

If you have videos on your main page, great! Just make sure you let people click the play button on their own. At the very least, it will give consumers a chance to silence their other music and video sources before they listen.

5. Website doesn’t scale

Do you always look at a website on your computer, or do you sometimes use your phone or tablet? Don’t you hate it when you’re interacting with website content on your phone and you have to scroll all the way to the right to read the full line and then scroll all the way back for the next line? It’s terrible! Make sure your website bends and twists to fit every screen—this is called responsive web design, and it’s very important. If people don’t realize your website actually operates differently on their smaller screen, you’ve done something right.


Your website content is one of your most important marketing tools. Whether or not people engage can mean the difference between one dollar and one million dollars in revenue. It’s worth it to take the time to make your website beautiful.

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3 SEO Tips to Improve Your Keyword Research

Have you heard that improving your SEO will help you get found online more easily? You’ve probably heard that implementing keywords into the content on your website, blog, and URL are key strategies for improving your SEO ranking. However, including the wrong keywords or too many keywords can be just as detrimental.

Although you may not always notice them, keywords play an integral role when it comes to helping a small business get found online. So let’s get to it by breaking down the long and short (tail) of it.

Do Your Own Keyword Research

Keyword research should never be a one-time commitment, but rather an ever-changing process that involves a strategy and a comprehensive understanding of your business and your industry. Including keywords that are specific to your business and industry will help to ensure that the right customers are being driven to your door rather than just any customer. Although we want to increase our customer base, we don’t want to target consumers that may not find the value in our business.

Using the Right Keywords

Short-tail keywords, or keywords composed of very generic keywords, might seem appealing because they’re searched more often than long-tail keywords, however, they’re also a lot more competitive. So, unless you’re writing content for a large organization, like Apple or Macy’s, and consumers are likely searching specifically for your product, you don’t want to enter into a sea of competitors with big brands that have even bigger pockets.

Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, may not be as frequently typed into a search engine—think, “Egg” vs. “Poached Egg with Avocado and Bechemel”. By including more long-tail keywords into the content on your page, you’ll attract a larger number of customers who are likely to search for any combination of those long-tail keywords.

Location-based keywords are keywords that directly relate to your business’s physical location. For example, if your business is a bakery in a popular neighborhood in Charlotte, NC, you’ll want to include not only Charlotte, but also the name of that specific neighborhood. By doing so, you’re more likely to target visitors in your area rather than across town who may or may not ever make it to your location.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Speaking of misleading customers that may not find value in your business, adding practically any keyword under the sun is referred to as keyword stuffing and is largely considered a taboo in the digital marketing world. Like with any other digital marketing rule of thumb, less is more and quality will always conquer quantity. Ideally, a website’s content should include keywords in a natural way. However, by inputting keywords into a few sentences and repeating them over and over, you’re stuffing your content with keywords. Even if they’re good keywords, it’s still too much.

Now that you’ve read through these tips, you’re ready to become an SEO expert too!

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How to Decide Your Google Ads Budget

When planning your marketing strategy for the year ahead, it’s important to allocate your budget to the different activities and campaigns you’ll be carrying out. Some marketing methods will require little to no investment, whereas others, like Google Ads, require some spending. With a budget in mind for your Google Ads campaigns, you can work toward your goals without spending too much of your marketing budget.

Let’s look at a simple process for deciding how much your Google Ads budget should be.

What are you paying for?

With PPC advertising, you only spend money when someone clicks on your ad. This means less wasted money because you’re not spending when people see your ad but have no interest in it. The price you pay per click will depend on the competitiveness of the keyword you’re targeting. So, determining your budget first requires some keyword research.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to do keyword research.

Understanding your cost-per-click

Once you’ve chosen your keywords, you should know the cost-per-click for each one. So, when someone includes that keyword in their search terms and sees your ad as a result, the CPC is the amount you’ll pay if they click on your ad. You may have different keywords with different CPCs.

Calculating your budget from your CPC

To calculate your Google Ads budget, you need to know what your goal is as well as your CPC. Let’s take a simple example – you want to get 100 new visitors to your site per month and your CPC for the keyword you’re using is $0.50. Your budget for the month would, therefore, be $50.

If your goal is to get conversions, then the sum is a little more complicated. You’ll also need to know your site’s conversion rate, which you can find out if you have site analytics. If you want 10 new customers per month and your site has a conversion rate of 5%, then you’d need an average of 200 visitors to your site. Multiply by that by your CPC of $0.50 and you’ve got your monthly budget of $100.

Don’t be afraid to spend on PPC advertising – statistics show that businesses, on average, earn around $3 for every $1.60 spent. It’s a good idea to monitor your Google Ads campaigns and adjust your budget as needed, but don’t jump in too fast when increasing and decreasing your budget.

Do you need help allocating your marketing budget for 2020? We can help you plan your marketing strategy and implement campaigns from Google Ads to social media. Contact us online or by phone to find out more.

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Inbound vs. Outbound Sales: Which One Will Help You Win?

You can’t have a successful business without sales. And, in almost all cases, you can’t have sales without a sales strategy. But with so many methods of selling to your customers, how do you know which is the right way to go? While there are many different selling techniques, they can mostly be boiled down to two categories – inbound sales and outbound sales.

What’s the difference between inbound and outbound sales?

Simply put, inbound sales is all about customers coming into your business to buy from you, while outbound sales is all about you and your team going out to find customers to buy from you.

If you have an outbound sales team, they might be making calls to potential customers, sending out letters, emailing people, or going to business conventions and trade shows to meet people face-to-face. You may be reaching out to completely new people – à la cold calling – or it might be a lead you’ve researched and know might be interested in your product or service.

With inbound sales, you wait for the customer to come to you. An inbound customer might call you, visit your website, or come straight into your store. To increase the chances of inbound sales, businesses typically create content and focus on their online presence and SEO to make it easier for potential customers to find them online.

Which is best for your business?

Both inbound and outbound sales can be beneficial strategies for your business. As you can imagine, outbound sales is a more time-intensive technique, which could mean more time wasted. This is because it involves spending time on outreach. However, some companies prefer this method because they have control over the prospecting and outreach processes, rather than sitting back and waiting.

Some prospects can also be put off by outbound sales techniques. Just think of how you react when you get an unwanted sales call. Whereas inbound customers engage with a company because they want to; because they are interested in their offering. However, this can be improved with effective outbound sales strategies and research, where warm calls can be more effective than cold calls, for example.

The real answer is that most companies should use a combination of both inbound and outbound sales to maximize their opportunities. However, it also depends on your business; the size of your team, what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, etc.

For example, if you’re a one-man-band or small team, you probably won’t have much time for cold calling and other outbound strategies, unlike larger companies with a team dedicated to outbound sales. Then again, you may not have the time or resources to create the necessary content to encourage inbound sales, either.

If you need an expert team to help increase your inbound or outbound sales, then get in touch with us at Hallen Media to find out how our services can benefit you.

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Can SEO Increase My Sales?

Business owners go through lots of different strategies and tactics to help them improve their sales. Some work well while others fall flat. There’s no sure-fire way to increase your sales but, when done right, SEO could be one of the best tools in your toolkit. If you’re new to SEO or are struggling to make it work, then read on for some tips on how to increase your sales through search engine optimization.

How SEO increases sales

A comprehensive SEO strategy improves the performance of your website so that people are more likely to see it as a result in their Google search. This exposes more people to your website and, hopefully, increases visits to that site as a result. More people landing on your website means more leads. It’s then up to your website copy to convert those leads into customers.

Take a look at our quick beginner’s guide to SEO to learn more about what’s involved in an effective SEO strategy.

SEO tips to make it work

The above sounds great, but SEO isn’t easy. It’s not a case of quickly fixing your SEO and then seeing the sales flood in. But here are some tips to understand the process and make it a little easier…

  • Conduct thorough research – Targeting the right keywords is an important part of SEO, so keyword research is required first. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to research the popularity and competitiveness of different keywords and phrases. Select which keywords you want to target and try to incorporate them into your website content.
  • Put content first – One mistake that businesses make is prioritizing SEO over content. In reality, content is a major part of SEO. Your visitors, and therefore Google, want to see quality, engaging content that’s useful and shareable. Don’t compromise your content just to fit a few keywords in.
  • Combine SEO with other strategies – SEO is not a stand-alone activity and should be a part of your wider marketing strategy. Combining SEO with social can be especially effective as it helps with link-building. Build an active social media presence and then you can share content and post links to your website to help boost your SEO success.
  • Be patient – Even if you have the perfect strategy, SEO is not an overnight success story. It takes patience and consistency before you start to see results. So, monitor your SEO and make changes where needed, but don’t become frustrated if you don’t see results right away.

Do you need support developing and implementing your SEO strategy? We support businesses around Winston Salem, Clemmons, and beyond to help them increase sales and get to number one on Google. Get in touch for our SEO and marketing support for your small business.