The Secret to Search Engine Love

We’re just going to come right out and say it – the secret to search engine love is… building your site in WordPress. Yes, WordPress. Along with affordability, free themes, and ease of use, one of the most beneficial aspects of WordPress is that search engines love these websites. Since WordPress is a content management system (CMS), search engines pick up WordPress sites more easily, making it one of the top platforms for business websites.

2So, why do Search Engines Love WordPress Sites?

Permalinks: WordPress allows you to create permalinks for each blog post and page you create. When someone searches for a specific keyword, search engines can easily find the information via permalinks.

SEO Plugins: WordPress is well-known for its variety of plugins. There are several SEO-related plugins that will help you understand what keywords work well with search engines and swiftly index your website.

Tags in Posts and Pages: A tag is a keyword or set of keywords placed at the bottom of each post or page you create. Tags are beneficial because you can create specific words that relate to your content, making it much easier for search engines to pick up your website.

Categories: Another valuable feature that WordPress offers is the ability to create categories. Categories make it simple for visitors to find specific information without having to browse through unorganized content. This works well for rankings because it helps search engines index your site. Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to name each category with the correct keyword so that it will be easier to index.

Interlinking: When you link a blog or web page to another similar blog or page, it helps search engines find your website and boost it in search results. In addition, interlinking is wonderful for optimizing your keywords. WordPress has built-in features that allow you to interlink as many times as you want.

Content Management System (CMS): WordPress is a CMS, meaning you can update, change, add, and edit information at any time without relying on a web developer to help. This helps to keep your content fresh and relevant, something search engines love. With the creation of Google Panda and Spider, search engines now filter out redundant content and search more for fresh, original information. Whenever you update your website with new material, search engines pick up this information, which in turn helps boost your search rankings.

If you need a website or you need to move your website to WordPress, Contact Us and we will get you taken care of asap.

Mobilizing Your Website Is Vital – Website Strategy Tips

If your website isn’t yet optimized for mobile use, try navigating to your site from your mobile phone. Chances are you’ll have a difficult time viewing your own content. Your mobile phone may lag as you try to navigate and in some instances, it may completely shut down. Mobile devices are not equipped to handle traditional websites, and with more than 50% of consumers using mobile devices to search of products and services, it’s imperative that you have a website that works for mobile phones and tablets.

mobile-website-statsFortunately, our CMS of choice, WordPress, makes the process relatively easy with helpful tools and features.

WordPress Mobile Themes
WordPress has themes that are optimized according to the device used when visiting a website. For example, if someone visits your site from an iPhone, the theme’s dimensions will change in order to support it. If someone uses a tablet, the theme’s dimensions will once again change in order to accommodate the user’s device.

WordPress Mobile Plugins
In addition to mobile themes, WordPress offers a variety of mobile plugins that strip down unneeded graphics and designs so people on mobile devices can have faster load times. For example, the WordPress Mobile Pack is a powerful all-in-one tool that can switch your website from mobile-ready to desktop and vice versa, depending on the device used to visit your site. It also contains advanced mobile themes geared towards iPhone, Palm, and Android users.

Mobile Use is Here to Stay
According to Localytics, 41% of mobile phone users browse for products and services via their mobile devices after seeing something in an advertisement. Additionally, over half of mobile phone users will compare store website prices while shopping in the same store and 36% of shoppers will go online to check out deals that others stores have. Furthermore, per Pew Internet, as of May 2013, over 90% of adults in the United States own a mobile phone. 56% of these adults have smartphones, and 36% have mobile tablets. Along with playing games and visiting social media sites, the majority of mobile phone users regularly visit business websites for coupon deals to use at local stores and businesses.

If a website is not mobile-friendly, most users will find another similar business that offers better viewing. As more and more people turn to their mobile devices for purchases and research, it’s imperative to ensure consumers have the best possible viewing experience when visiting your website.

Sources:
Pew Internet: Mobile: http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/February/Pew-Internet-Mobile.aspx
Localytics: 20 Fresh Mobile Statistics: http://www.localytics.com/blog/2013/mobile-statistics/

7 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid [Infographic]

Making mistakes is inevitable, but when it comes to marketing, and especially the way your website answers the questions your visitors have, it can be extremely costly. We present 7 of the biggest web design mistakes small businesses make so you can improve your website, convert more visitors and ultimately increase your bottom line.

web-design

Poor Website Design Can Cost You Customers – Website Strategy Tips

web-design-mistakesNo matter how professional your company is or how strong your services are, a poorly designed website could cost you more than you think. Today, more than ever, your website may be the first thing that consumers see before making a purchasing decision. People are turning to the Internet to find solutions before they go anywhere else.

Telltale signs a poor website design is costing you customers:

1. Subpar Functionality: It’s important to ensure that all your links, videos, and graphics are running smoothly at all times. In some cases, you may not even know you have these issues, but make sure you’re proactive and get a problem repaired as soon as possible.

2. User Experience: Consumers want websites that are easy to use yet still provide eye-catching options. For example, a simple link that directs them to a product isn’t as pleasing a link highlighted in blue, with a beautiful picture and a product description beside it. In addition, service information and products should always be easy to find. Obscure, hard-to-find information is a disappointment to consumers as they want to find things as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.

3. Categories: Your website should be designed with categories for each product and/or service you offer. This not only helps your site look cleaner, but it also ties into the user experience, making it simpler to find information. If your products and service information is scattered sporadically throughout your website with no order, then your site probably needs an overhaul.

4. Font Size, Text, and Search Boxes: Outdated text, hard-to-read fonts, and websites without a prominently placed search box all plays a part in a poorly designed website. If your website isn’t designed in a user-friendly way, you run the risk of not only losing potential paying customers, but also current customers as well.

5. Goal of the Site: Consumers do research before they make purchasing decisions, whether in-store or online. If your website isn’t designed with the customer in mind, these consumers can easily move on to a similar business with a better website.

6. Negative Reviews: Word gets around easily online, especially via reviews. If someone has a difficult time on your website, there is a good chance that this information will be shared with others. Most people don’t return to a difficult website, including, in some instances, current customers.

Your website is (or should be) at the heart of your online presence, so if you are struggling with any of these elements request our free website review. We’ll tell you exactly what your visitors see as well as what the search engines see – so you can get things corrected. Click here to request your review!

How to Become a Master Delegator

delegateDelegation is an important skill for any business owner to master, but it’s especially important for small business owners who have very little time and extra money to devote to bottlenecks, accidental duplication of efforts, and missed deadlines.

If you learn to delegate well, you’ll have more time to devote your energy to more important tasks, provide employment for another person, and (since it’s likely someone else can do the tasks better than you) make yourself look even more amazing due to the good choices you make.

Identify Blocks to Delegation – One of the first things to do is figure out what causes you to be fearful of delegation. Usually the reasons have to do with perfectionism, self-protection, lack of a workable system in place and being unsure of which tasks to delegate.

Set Up a Fail-Safe System – Before you even start delegating, it’s important to set up a system of some sort – like Basecamp or another online project management system. Keep in mind some of the people you outsource to may have their own system which you can use. This is especially true of online business managers or project managers.

Streamline Your Processes – Go through the processes you use to do the tasks now, and write them down so that you can figure out how to streamline the processes. However, do keep in mind that contractors are mostly concerned with deliverables, so this process is more for your benefit to find out what types of things you can delegate. An example would be repetitive tasks like email management.

Hire the Right People for the Job – When you know what tasks you want to outsource, it’s important to find the right people for the job or task. To get the most bang for your buck, choose someone to do it who likes doing it, wants to do it, and considers it their expertise. In other words, don’t expect to hire someone who can do everything perfectly. Hire several people to do one or two things each perfectly.

Give Clear Instructions – Provide the contractor with the requirements, deadlines, scope of authority, purpose, goals and objectives, potential problems, and tools available to them (if any are needed such as passwords and sign-on information).

Ask for Feedback – Open up the communication by asking the contractor if they have any questions based on your instructions. That way they won’t be worried about asking anything even if it’s “stupid.” The worst thing you can do is criticize a contractor for asking a question. And of course, you need to get back to them quickly with your answers.

Focus on Deliverables – In many cases, contractors want you to focus more on deadlines and deliverables than too many details. How they get something done should not be as important as the result of what they got done.

Give Constructive Feedback – As often as is practicable give feedback to your contractors. This is especially true if you would like something done differently than what they turned in but you still want to keep working with the person. Give the feedback by giving compliments on what is good, then what could be better, and finally something good again to help build up the confidence of the contractor.

Allow for Mistakes – The fact is, no one is perfect and contractors will sometimes misunderstand directions. As long as something isn’t blatant such as constant missed deadlines, poor quality of work and so forth, sometimes people make mistakes. If your contractors are afraid of making mistakes, sometimes it will stifle their creativity. So be open to new ideas and potential mistakes, while also being clear on your expectations.

Finally, the best way to become a master delegator is to let go and just do it. Start with something small such as outsourcing your email customer service, eBook writing, report writing, blog post writing, article writing, social media marketing, and graphic design for projects. Write a list of everything that needs to be done to launch one of your products and try to outsource as much of as you can to see how it comes together. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.

Top Tips for Building a Powerful and Profitable SMS Marketing Campaign

SMS marketing can help you increase your marketing reach exponentially if you know what to do. Think about it – the customer has their mobile device with them all the time, and according to many studies the open rate for text messaging is over 97 percent. With results like that, you can’t turn down the opportunity to incorporate SMS marketing into your business practices.

Target the Right Audience

You want only people on your SMS lists who want to be on them. Get permission to market to them via SMS by being direct and upfront about why you want their mobile number. Give them options so that if they want to receive messages in other ways that they can.

Follow the Law

Just like there are anti-spam laws for email messaging, there are laws regarding SMS messages. You must have an easy way for consumers to opt out of receiving messages and the system must work to remove them immediately when they ask.

Use a Service

The easiest way to follow the law and to run a profitable SMS marketing campaign is to use the right services and software which help you automate the system, follow the laws, set up all your marketing messages in advance of the campaign, and send messages on the fly when you feel like it.

Create Thought-Out Messaging

Don’t just throw anything together when it comes to SMS marketing messages. Ensure that your message has a reason for being, and that it leads to some sort of action or conclusion by your recipient.

Host a Competition

People love competition and SMS is a great way to host one using polls, voting, and surveys to complete the competition and allow participants to win something of value.

Announce Last-Minute Sales

SMS messaging is a perfect way to announce last-minute or time-limited sales. Sending out a text message that gives the recipient a code with three hours to respond is going to get a lot more buyers than you can imagine if you’ve done the work to build a responsive, targeted list of customers.

Be Viral

SMS messages need not be boring. They can even become viral if you take the time to think about what message you want to send. You can include links to images, videos, and more right to your customer at any time of the day or night that they can then forward to their friends.

Use for Product Verification

Need a way to get people to join your SMS list? Ask for phone numbers to verify the product and to provide free training for your product or service. Most people who have already bought from you will have no issue entering their number for verification.

Create Awareness

Using SMS campaigns to create awareness of new products and services is a great way to circumvent the unopened emails. For example, if you’ve collected email addresses and SMS information, try sending the information via SMS to the people who did not open the email. You’ll probably get a higher open rate and the awareness will be spread.

Offer Coupons, Deals and Specials

Everyone loves a special deal and your SMS list members are no exception. In fact, if you send out a coupon or deal at the right time, you’ll be surprised at how many people will take advantage. The key is to understand your customer enough that you know which deals to offer at which time.

Engage Customers

Don’t forget that SMS marketing is much like any other social media marketing – it’s social. Therefore it’s important to engage with your members strategically so that they will help spread your message and answer your calls to action.

JV with Others

An SMS marketing campaign isn’t really that different from an email marketing campaign. You must build your list, send focused messages, engage them, and provide value to the people who trust you enough to give their information. If you do that, your SMS marketing campaigns will be successful.

SMS marketing is a powerful marketing method that many small businesses should be involved in. If you’re not using SMS marketing yet, why not?

Book Recommendation – Don’t Make Me Think

thinkDon’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition)

People use the Internet and your website differently than you might expect. The more you understand how they use your site and what they hope to find, learn, and gain the easier it will be to not only provide them with an exceptional experience but also to guide them to take action and to achieve your business goals.

Content and navigation go hand in hand. Steve Krug is considered the king of usability, intuitive navigation and information design. 14 years ago he published Don’t Make Me Think which became a go-to guide and necessary resource for website designers and business owners. He’s recently released an updated version.

It takes a user-friendly common sense approach to helping you create the content that your users want, need, and actually pay attention to. From guiding principles to things you must get right, Krug helps readers take it step by step.

Says Krug, Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology. And while technology often changes quickly, people change very slowly. Direct Link for Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is a great addition to any entrepreneur’s bookshelf and it’s the perfect companion to Krug’s usability testing handbook Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems.

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) – Order Here

Creating “Top of Mind” Awareness – Strategix Video Tip

It only takes a second to be reminded of something, but if you aren’t triggering that reminder with your customers, they may forget about you totally. Watch as ee talk you through a great idea (one of many) to stay “top of mind” with your customers.

[Tweet “Great idea for creating “top of mind” awareness for your customers.”]

A Positioning Strategy Must Answer This Question: Why would I buy from you?

Guest Post by John Jantsch

UniqueSellingPoint-unique-marketingAnswering the question above is the greatest marketing challenge facing the small business. Why would I buy from you is what your clients and potential clients constantly ask themselves when considering a purchase. Of course what they are really asking is “what’s in it for me”

The best answer to this dilemma is something known in marketing circles as your USP. The term USP has been around for a long time. The idea here is to identify and then communicate a concise statement of your firm’s most compelling offer and benefit in a way that the potential client can automatically answer the what’s in it for me question. That’s all a USP is.

Most everyone is familiar with the original Fedex USP. On time every time or it’s free. At the time this offer was very unique in the shipping industry and literally built the company based on communicating this unique selling proposition. So what’s your compelling offer? What can you do and offer that no one else in your industry can offer?

Most consumers view small businesses like commodities. The feeling is that one accountant is like another or that one attorney can get the same result as another. The problem is that most marketers do nothing to expel that perception. “Buy from us because we’ve been in business for 20 years,” or “we’re dependable,” go the slogans of many small businesses.

Of course the fact that you are dependable, carry a full line of products, offer fair pricing, or are honest are expectations…they are not points of differentiation. An effective USP communicates your firm’s unique ability to fill an obvious void in the marketplace. The USP shows your target market how your firm is uniquely qualified to solve their pain or increase their gain. A USP can be your firm’s single most powerful marketing weapon.

How to craft your USP

To craft a USP for your firm first make a list of all the benefits of doing business with your firm. Don’t leave anything out. Then cut the list down with these guidelines.

  1. What things on your list are unique versus your direct competitors?
  2. Which of these benefits is most important to your clients?
  3. Which of these would be difficult for other’s in your industry to copy?
  4. Which of these can be easily communicated?

From this set of guidelines you should be able to narrow your search to the top one or two benefits of doing business with your firm. From there it is simply a matter of injecting this
chief benefit or USP into everything that you do. Craft headlines that promote your USP, put a USP statement on your stationary and business cards, build your USP into all of your sales presentations.

The ultimate goal is to become known to the market as whatever your USP promotes.

One final word of warning. You must deliver on the big promise communicated in your USP. Failure to do so may actually do more harm than drifting along without any marketing focus.

——

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer; Sell Like a Superstar and Duct Tape Marketing: The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine (Portfolio: May 15, 2014). He is the founder of Duct Tape Marketing.