How To Encourage Customer Reviews To Increase SEO
Customer reviews can do wonders for your revenue and website. The more readily product reviews are on your webpages, the more likely your visitors are to make a purchase. Research has found that 88% of shoppers are searching the Web for reviews before they make any purchasing decisions.
These product reviews have a dual purpose: they help your target buyers better understand what you’re offering, resulting in product validations; and they contribute organic SEO to your product pages -- for free. Google encourages business owners to reach out to customers for reviews, and there’s a good reason why. Here’s what you need to know:
The Link Between Reviews & SEO
Review signals comprise roughly 10% of Google’s ranking factor, making it an important area of focus for your overall SEO strategy. There are several ways these reviews impact SEO. For starters, they offer unique, user-generated content with each reivew. And because these happy customers are your target audience, these reviews often include the keywords you’re targeting as well.
The more high-rated reviews you have, the more Google believes you have verifiable authority and social proof. And lastly, star ratings appear in Google search results, which yield more site visitors. With increased traffic, you’re well on your way to increasing your organic SEO.
Ways To Ask For Reviews
There are several ways to ask for reviews, including in person, through email, through telephone, and through online chats. Each present their own set of pros and cons. Service-based businesses and brick and mortar retailers who spend more face time with their customers should ask for reviews in person. In-person requests have proven the most effective method of receiving reviews. You may want to pass them a physical flyer or small card that details how to leave the review. This will help them remember what to do after they’re gone.
Many ecommerce shops collect emails during the checkout process, and this is helpful in reaching out for reviews. However, because there’s no way to garner how they felt about their product, you might want to request that they fill out a survey before you ask for a review. For smaller shops and craft stores, consider including your review card in the package.
Additionally, telephone operators and customer service reps can request in-call and offline reviews from their customers; on-page chats can do the same. These two options work better than email as well, because you the person interacting with the customer has a good idea of how they might review the business.
How To Define Your 2018 Business Goals
Defining your business goals is something of an art. Many business owners are inclined to shoot for goals that seem appropriate for the company, but aren’t really in its best interest. It’s important to create realistic goals that are attainable as well as sensible. The right goals keep you on a straight path and ensure you don’t end up the way so many other small businesses do. Here’s my advice for defining your 2018 business goals:
Follow The SMART Business Goal Model
The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. We’ll focus on a few of these areas throughout the article, but this model should be fully implemented as you sit down to draft your business goals for 2018. Using the SMART model as foundation, you can easily turn broad business goals to well-planned, smart business goals. Pun intended.
The word specific focuses on what exactly the goal or objective is; measurable focuses on the numbers that drive the goals; attainable revolves around ensuring that the goal is realistic; relevant means the goal actually contributes to business growth; and time-based commits you to achieving that goal within a specified time frame.
As previously mentioned, specificity goes a long way when it comes to developing the right goals. Business owners shouldn’t just say their goal is to make a profit or increase their social media presence. Instead, create highly specific goals that can be defined numerically (if possible). Maybe in the year 2018, you want to have $20k in profit and add another 500 Facebook likes? Those are specific goals that you can track.
Create Measurable Goals
Your goals should be measurable in order to best understand your successes and failures and make changes for the future. While profit goals and follower counts may be easier to measure, other goals are not. But before you start measuring your progress, you need baseline metrics.
Your baseline shows you where you are now. For instance, before we launch a full SEO campaign at Sayles Industries, we take a look at current monthly organic conversions, keywords that are driving traffic, and the results of existing PPC efforts, among other variables. This helps us better understand how our efforts have helped the business improve once our campaign is complete.
You’ll also need to take a long, hard long at your current marketing efforts to see what areas of the business need the most help, and which will directly contribute to your goals. If your goal is to increase your social following by X amount, then you can shave off other areas of your marketing budget, like print ads, to focus on that. Be sure that you’ve recorded all your baseline measurements across the board in a program like Excel.
Here’s a good example of a measurable goal. Let’s say you’re an ecommerce business that wants to focus on building a “premium” brand and increasing profit. You might use your baseline metrics to determine which keywords -- and therefore products -- are running the show. This is where Pareto’s 80/20 Law comes into play (determine which 20% of your products are driving 80% of profits). You could then realign your marketing strategy to focus on your profit builders. You’ll be able to see, at the end of the year, how these changes have impacted your business across the board.
The Importance of 404 Pages for SEO
No matter what type of business you run, whether it’s a small, local business or a large corporation, you’ll likely have visitors that reach your 404 page. A 404 page is essentially an error page that appears for visitors who have reached a webpage on your domain that no longer exists.
There are a few reasons this could happen. For example, perhaps you’ve used a Wordpress plugin like Pretty Links to shorten all your old links and make them more user-friendly. If your site has been around for a few years, there’s likely quite a few blogs and forums that contain content linking back to those old URLs. In this case, people who click on those old links would see a 404 page. The same applies if you’ve deleted a page; when the visitor goes to that page, it no longer exists.
It’s also common for the user to type in the wrong URL, thereby reaching the 404 page. Regardless of how they reached that page, one thing is clear: every once in a while, there will be errors, and you need to know how to properly handle them.
The Link Between SEO & Broken Links
Google crawls every page of your site in nanoseconds to develop a complete picture. Broken links thwart its ability to make that possible. When search engines can’t index your site, it’s less likely to be ranked higher in the SERPs.
If broken links hurt SEO, 404 pages behave like bandaids. When handled correctly, 404 pages can help Google AND users better understand what’s happening and why. These 404 pages only become hurtful when visitors are reaching them far too often, indicating there’s a larger issue with your site.
Check For Broken Links
While having a great 404 page is the goal, you should always take preventative measures. At the end of the day, you don’t actually WANT your visitors to land on a 404 page -- no matter how beautifully designed it is. Each broken link is a missed opportunity, and it disrupts the visitor’s journey and brand experience.
There are a few ways to ensure you stay on a straight path when it comes to links. To begin, you might want to conduct a site-wide link audit regularly. Depending on the size of your site, you could check for links that don’t work on a quarterly basis.
If you’re working with an SEO company, they’ll likely handle this for you. If your site doesn’t contain hundreds of pages and you’re looking to DIY, you’re in luck: there are many broken link tools to choose from that aid you in this process. Popular tools include ScreamingFrog Spider SEO, Xenu Link Sleuth, and Google Webmaster Tools.
Google’s New Algorithm Update Might Mark Your Website As Unsafe
Beginning on October 24th, all Google users browsing on Google Chrome will see a “not secure” warning for HTTP web pages that all text input. This refers to everything from login details to payment information. This includes search boxes, too. If your site has a search box, it means you have the ability to collect data on what your users are searching, even if you don’t collect payments or have a site registration feature.
The company first announced Google 56, its own version of root-security authority, in January. The push is aimed to help Google properly convey to users when sites aren’t safely securing their sensitive data, in hopes that it will help reduce the volume of compromised data. Google also wants to encourage website owners to use progressive Google web apps (some that allow access to user cams and mics) that require SSL certification.
What Is An SSL?
An SSL is a digital document that verifies that your website is legitimate and all information entered is protected. In short: it creates a secure connection between the site server and the browser, and adds a layer of encryption to prevent any attackers from impersonating your business and stealing sensitive information. The cost of SSL certificates vary depending on the provider and any extra features you want incorporated into the certification.
Major Businesses Are Currently Not Secure
A Google Transparency Report revealed a large number of major businesses that didn’t have HTTPS, including Alibaba, CNN, Amazon AWS, and BBC. With over one billion users on Google Chrome, this will prompt a hefty amount of them to enable site-wide HTTPS.
Up until now, Google displayed unsecured HTTP sites with a grey indicator which, according to Google teams, doesn’t accurately help users understand the dangers of inputting information on HTTP sites. The new “not secure” warning will be in red, which previously was reserved for broken HTTPS sites only.
What Is The Real Value Of Guest Blogging And How Does It Increase Website Rankings
Guest blogging presents a wide array of benefits to you and your brand. Although it increases SEO and your influence in a particular industry, not everyone fully understands what guest blogging is and the value it offers. The premise is simple: you write some form of content and post it on another website whose audience and platform is relevant to yours. No, it’s not your average linking strategy. It’s a dedicated strategy that takes time, patience, and thorough planning. Fortunately, if executed correctly, the benefits pay for itself, and then some.
Brands of all sizes and in many different industries have found success through the power of guest blogging. Phil Libin, the CEO at Evernote, used his experience building a mobile application to pitch a guest blog on TechCrunch, and his efforts were highly successful. This demonstrates the ability to turn many subjects into a guest blogging opportunity. You can blog about the trials and tribulations of starting a business, applying for a loan, or launching a crowdfunding campaign. Or, you can blog about the subject matter with which your business specializes in. Either way, guest blogging is a great way to put your name (and your business) out there.
Increase Your Conversions
There a few different ways you can increase your website conversions, and guest blogging is one of them. When you guest blog, you spread your content, expertise, and name across the Web, and this will ultimately come back to help you in the end. For example, if you were the owner of a marketing agency and guest posted an article about unique ways to sculpt your social media strategy on a well-known marketing blog, there’s a chance people will discover your marketing business. They read something that they see provides value, published on a forum they trust, and turn to you for more information.
Guest Blogging Increases SEO
Each time you guest blog on a reputable site, Google takes note. The more relevant guest blogs that you have posted, the more backlinks you get. Whether you realize it or not, Google is huge on backlinks (ranking without it is nearly impossible) -- they want to know that the links pointing to you are relevant to your business, and that you can be trusted as a credible source. The more backlinks you get using white hat SEO, the better chances you’ll have of appearing higher in search engine results pages.
Why It’s So Important To Understand Google Penalties
Most business owners today either at least have a basic understanding of search engine optimization. In many cases, they’re aware of the benefits, but not quite sure of the path to get there. They’ll either make attempts to learn SEO on their own, or hire an SEO agency. Either way, one thing is clear: no business can successfully thrive long-term without it. Even the biggest brand have SEO plans in place.
However, the fight to reach the top of search engine results pages can result in a few messes and those messes come to hurt your site via Google penalties. Unfortunately, many business owners, especially local business owners, aren’t even aware of the mistakes they’re making. They misconstrue grey or black hat SEO tactics as “competitive SEO.” Furthermore, Google has notoriously been hush-hush about their algorithm updates and how it affects sites. Therefore, any tactics that seem to be treading the line and getting away with it are often penalized after those tactics are pushed.
Don’t Get Hit With A Google Penalty
Getting hit with a Google penalty can turn out to be a major financial dilemma. Most small business rely on organic search results to bring in new business. One study from Eye Centric found that at least 70% of consumers submitting search engine queries will ignore paid search ads altogether and focus on organic search results instead. This isn’t to discredit the value of PPC ads, but to emphasize the tremendous importance of staying in Google’s good graces: organic search is the number one traffic driver, by a landslide.
Manual & Algorithmic Penalties
The first part in avoiding Google penalties is understanding the different types of those penalties. There are two primary types: manual penalties and algorithmic penalties. Manual penalties are when Google conducts a manual review of a website and imposes a penalty if they see anything that goes against their rules. There are actually over 400,000 manual penalties on a monthly basis, making it fairly common. You’ll be able to easily identify manual penalties in your Google Webmaster Tools.
Why Dex Media Buying YP Holdings Is Horrible News
In June, the former Dex Mediaannounced they acquired YP Holdings (Yellow Pages). While the company’s statement didn’t disclose any financial details, the Wall street Journal reported that it was a $600 million deal, and YP owners would retain a 3 percent stake in the combined company. The acquisition transitions Dex Media into DexYP
Joe Walsh, DexYP CEO, says the acquisition will help expand the company’s offerings and better promote their marketing platform (currently being used by almost 30,000 customers), Thryv. And according to the newly-created DexYP website:
“This transaction provides us with a greatly expanded client base and revenue profile, all with the national scale and infrastructure we need to continue to serve our clients and grow our business. Additionally, we now have an enhanced platform on which we can manage our print directories business profitably.”
On the surface, it seems to make sense. The two companies, both phone book publishers, were formerly competitors and that focused on offering directory resources and marketing solutions to small, local businesses. And as the age-old saying goes, “if you can’t beat em’, join em’.”
And yet, the acquisition is slightly confusing, given DexYP Media’s recent bankruptcy filing. Just over a year ago, the company filed for Chapter 11 protection. This was a part of a prepackaged bankruptcy-protected merger between Dex Media and SuperMedia. The bankruptcy isn’t the only warning sign: in fact, the company has had a turbulent history that goes back nearly a decade.
Google AMP – Just Another Fad or the Future of Mobile Surfing
Google has been up to a lot lately. While we continue to wait for their driver-less car, we are being treated to a number of moonshots: Google Home, Allo, Duo, Virtual Reality platform, and Android Instant among others. Whereas some of the projects are already hogging the spotlight, others are yet designed and tested in secrecy. Last year they launched Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project.
Let me explain. AMP is a new Google initiative meant to help web developers build better, more user- friendly mobile pages. The project has introduced a new set of “standard” rules for building web pages and content for mobile devices, with the main aim being the creation of ads and websites that are consistently fast and high performing across all media devices and distribution platforms.
Ever since AMP was launched, that’s February last year, it has been some big news, especially in the world of SEO. For various reasons, the speed for instance, AMP websites and pages have taken over ranking, often come up first in Google search results. Despite the thrill it has created, some webmasters are treating it with contempt. Is it here to stay or is it another fad? That’s the question.
Since its launch last year, some 1.5B pages have been developed using the new set of rules. There are over 100 Google AMP analytics as well that have been developed within this while. To this end there is some promise of a future. That it is an open source initiative makes it good for all. Web publishers and advertisers have a choice how to present their content and what technologies to use.
How SEO has Evolved the Years
Search Engine Optimization has evolved greatly in the recent past that most people who still held on the ‘ancient’ SEO practices believed that SEO died. Well, it is good to note that nothing has replaced SEO, it the same SEO that was but has just evolved.
Earlier SEO techniques
In the past, the most common SEO practices were keyword stuffing and link farming which to many people seemed unethical and were termed as spamming. However, it’s good to note that during this time, these were the most effective SEO practices, although today more effective SEO practices have emerged, we ought to know that these earlier practices laid the foundation upon which search algorithms have been improved.
Today, we can take pride in the effectiveness of social media and email marketing but it all began with these practices that we now term extinct. In 2010 for example, content spinning and link building were the main SEO practice that brought results even though they were still considered unethical.
These practices were later termed redundant right after Google updated its search algorithms. To those who didn’t embrace the new, SEO became dead but those who evolved with it saw great results.
Google releases that Changed SEO completely
During the years 2011 and 2012 google released google panda, penguin and hummingbird. These releases brought some of the prior SEO techniques to their death bed. For example, in 2011 after google panda was released, manipulative SEO practices like keyword stuffing become irrelevant. Businesses that relied heavily on keyword stuffing fell belly fast and had to fight to adjust to Google SEO standards.
Benefits Of Online Reviews And Its Impact On Search Results And Consumer Choices
During a recently concluded consumer review study by BrightLocal, the global search marketing group found quite some interesting online reviews statistics. According to the group, moving from a 3-star consumer rating to 5-star can get a business up to 25% more clicks from Google local 3-pack. Having a 5-star on the other hand according to the study can earn a business 39% more clicks.
Online reviews impact on businesses is quite high according to the study. It was further noted that 56% of online consumers select a business based on positive ratings and or reviews displayed in Google Map Pack. According to the study by the search marketing group, star ratings displayed in Local Maps usually act to generate higher Click Through-Rates (CTR) than organic search results.
The online reviews statistics by BrightLocal are not entirely unique though. Other online review impact studies by Moz.Com and The Local SEO Guide have recently given similar results. According to Moz.Com, 91% of consumers read online reviews when searching for local businesses. The SEO consulting company also indicates in their impact study that 84% of consumers trust online reviews.
Of significance is the fact that the studies agree on online review impact on ranking, click through rates (CTR), and business trust by clients. As is the case with the online review impact study by Bright Local, the studies by Moz.ComandThe Local SEO Guide both indicate that online reviews have an influence on position of a business in Google Local 3-pack and in localized organic search results.
The Importance of XML Sitemaps in SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is defined differently. It is common knowledge, however, that it is the process of getting or increasing traffic based on website content considered most “free”, most organic and most natural. What is important to keep in mind is that due to stiff competition and increased content syndication, one needs to establish that his/her website is the most original.
This is the number one benefit of XML sitemaps in SEO. But what is it exactly and how else is it important for SEO? XML sitemaps are technically referred to as URL inclusion protocols, which help to inform search engines what to crawl and or what to prioritize. To further understand XML sitemaps and SEO, benefit of XML sitemaps, and XML sitemaps generator, consider the following.
Imagine your website was a house and each page of the website was a room. An XML sitemap in this case would be the blue print of your house, showing all the rooms, where they are located and which ones among them are the most important to you. Unlike an ordinary blueprint, an XML sitemap also indicates how many times a page is visited, and when a change has been made to it.
Basically, XML sitemaps are important for SEO because they make it easier for Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo to find pages on your website – and this helps because beside websites, Google and the other search engines often rank web pages. XML sitemaps were first introduced by Google in 2005, others adopted the same a year later. You need XML sitemaps when:
How To Fix Business Challenges In The 21st Century
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of upcoming companies and or businesses fail by end of their first year of establishment. By the end of their fifth year, 50% of the businesses go under and by the tenth year, the number of failed businesses often grows to 80%, says the federal bureau. You may not notice the significance of these figures until you start a business of your own.
The truth is that there are business struggles that are common and almost inevitable when starting. The most common business struggles companies often face when starting include access to financial and human capital, client reach, brand awareness and establishment of customer loyalty. You may relate, for most starters, the inevitable concerns are where to get capital and the clients.
You may also want to argue that despite the fact that most of the so called established businesses out here have little issue with capital and clientele, some of these business struggles are not unique to startups. Business challenges in the 21st century are more cross-cutting than unique. For the more established companies, the concerns are management, uncertainty and increased competition.
You may not notice the significance of these figures until you start a business of your own – sounds like there’s no hope. The struggles and business challenges in the 21st century indicated are all fixable.
1) Access to Capital
There’s great emphasis on capital when starting a business. It is indeed a significant requirement. What many forget is to have the right estimation, which should often come in a business plan. In most cases, a good business plan alone should be able to get you funding from financial lenders and similar bodies. You may however want to start with the support of friends and relatives though.
How And Why Content Marketing Works
The interesting bit of marketing today is that money is no longer stashed away in tight coffers. It is on the table surrounded by “greedy wolves” (read competitors), and how much you take home is entirely your call to make. That technology can make you more ‘gluttonous’ is not a hush-hush.
Online content marketing is in fact hot right now. This is despite the fact that Offline Sales is yet to go away. Reports indicate that more than half the offline market will be swayed by the current content marketing strategy trends come 2019 – that online sales will rise from $1.2 - $1.8 trillion.
Despite talks around its effectiveness, content marketing makes the difference today but what is it that makes it work? There are quite a number of reasons; one is that there’s increased access to the internet, two is that there’s increased need for information, and three, it is cheaper than advertising.
These are just but some of the common reasons why content marketing works. It is not a magical solution to marketing though. You need a good content marketing strategy to pull a success out of your efforts, which is better explained by the rather more popular phenomenon of a car dealership.
Every business can be likened to a car dealership. Car salespeople have never been held in high esteem. Most of them are thought to care more about commission than customer satisfaction. This is the journey of content marketing. Today it emphasizes more on customer satisfaction than sales.
How To Increase A Slow Loading Website
There’s nothing more frustrating than a slow loading website. According to Kissmetrics, 40 percent of internet users will abandon a site any time beyond three seconds of delay. According to the U.S. based data analytics platform, 47 percent of the users expect a page to load in two seconds or less. The truth is that the speed of a website has a great influence on page ranking and user satisfaction.
As indicated, a slow loading website is not only bad for the end-user; it’s a disaster for the website in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and website ranking. Sometime in 2006, Amazonreported that for every 100 milliseconds they increased their website loading speed, they saw a 1% increase in revenue.Perhaps you’re wondering, what are some of the causes of a slow loading page?
Common Causes Of A Slow Loading Page
The most common causes of a slow loading page include; lack of domain sharding, un-optimized images and those without caching information, and content served without http compression as well as server performance. Other, less technical causes of a slow loading page include; lots of traffic, code density, outdated CMS, too many file requests and plugins, or unnecessary redirects.
Most browsers can typically support up to four concurrent downloads of static resources for every hostname, which means that if your page is loading many static resources from the same hostname at the same time then the browser will restrict access to all content. This is what domain sharding means. So by splitting resources across two different domains, you can double browser speed.
Un-optimized images are impacting 90% of slow loading websites. They are these images that can be reduced in size without visually impacting the user. The method of optimization is called lossless optimization. Images that are optimized using this method should be same in size to their original, only stripped of irrelevant metadata (useful to the designer – not the user) that describes them.
The 3 C's of Building a Successful Website
Websites are vital for any business, large or small, and even for those who don’t necessarily sell product online. Websites let customers check the hours and location of your physical shop, and can make it easy for customers to order from you without ever leaving their home. When you are ready to build a website for your business, note the 3 Cs of doing this successfully, and of having a website that really contributes to the growth of your business.
The more quality content a website offers, the more likely it is to be found online. Search engines like Google and Yahoo still choose websites with more content to show up at the top of the list when visitors search for words and phrases, so you need more than just headlines on your site. If your website is short on content, add a blog to help fill this void.
Remember, however, that most search engines also note the amount of time visitors spend at your site, so you need quality content that invites readers to stay, not just filler and fluff. Hire a web designer or a freelance writer to come up with quality content if you’re not sure where to start.
How easy is it for customers to navigate your website? Can they quickly find the menu to click through product pages, or find the page that answers their questions about your hours and location? If they cannot find these important points within a matter of seconds and cannot easily work through the different parts of your website, they may simply click away, and usually to the website of a competitor!
6 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Website
Does your business have a website? Some business owners may think a website isn’t needed unless they actually sell products online, but this can be a mistake. Here are 6 reasons why every business needs a good website, no matter what they sell, service they offer, or the size of the company.
1. Customers look online before shopping in person
If you own a brick-and-mortar business and only work or sell out of this shop, your customers may still search for your business online before visiting or requesting service. They may want to check your hours, location, and phone number if they need to call for various reason. In some cases, if a customer can’t find a website, they may not be able to find important information that aids in their decision making such as your physical location, or they may assume you’ve gone out of business!
2. Websites sell products and services
Colorful photographs of the dishes you serve in a restaurant can impel potential customers to stop by. A list of the benefits of having a professional prepare your taxes can convince people that they need your accounting services. Videos of relaxing massages can make a person feel that they need to visit your spa for such a treatment as soon as possible! The power of suggestion can be very effective, and your website can be used in this way no matter your business.
3. Online searching cuts down on interruptions
How often has your staff had to answer a phone call from someone who only needed to know your hours, location, if you have a certain product in stock, or if they needed an appointment? Having this basic information available online can reduce the minutes and hours your staff might waste answering these questions over the phone.
4 Effective Ways of Advertising Your Business
Advertising methods for a business have changed over the time, and what worked to get customers and clients to your front door even just a few years ago may be very ineffective today. Your customers and clients may not respond well to newspaper ads, circulars, and business cards; even phone books are obsolete now-a-days. On the contrary, a mobile-friendly website, social media presence, and online ads, as well as an effective blog, can be just the tools you need to increase business and stay one step ahead of your competitors.
First let’s discuss what is meant by a mobile-friendly website and why this design of site is so vital. Keep in mind that many people use their smart phones and tablets when on the road, at the office, and even at home, versus a laptop or PC. The screens on these devices are obviously much smaller, so if your website runs off the edge or is difficult to read, this limits user experience and usability, which can cause a potential customer or client to click away and visit another website.
Many website builders will have the option to see how a site looks on a mobile device, so be sure to check and resize any font or pages accordingly, to be more mobile-friendly. Check the size of your graphics and scale them down or move them to one side versus the middle of the page, to ensure they can be seen on all mobile devices. While most website builders are user friendly and provide easy solutions, one of the best investments a business could make would be hiring an experienced and professional website design company to complete the task.
Most people today use some form of social media to look for information or check how reputable a business is. They may read other user reviews or look for hours, locations, and the number of likes on a company’s Facebook page. They may even use other directory sites such as Yelp, Manta or Yellow Pages to find additional information about a business as well as the business owner.
If a business lacks having a social media presence and are not utilizing social media sites as an actual means of advertising, they can be missing out on quite a bit of potential customers; especially since that's where most of them are in the first place. With that said, it's important for a business to list their correct information onto various social media pages, in addition to posting daily updates and new content displaying the quality of their work. In return, this encourages visitors to take further action such as going to the business page or perhaps to purchase their product or service.
Backlinks - Quality Over Quantity
Backlinks are very important for getting your website found by online visitors and increase internet traffic. A backlink is when your website has been linked from another website; behind a word, phrase or URL itself. This will increase your search engine rankings, now that the search engines will associate your website with that specific keyword or phrase that has been linked back to your site.
While backlinking is important to your website’s ranking, it’s vital to remember that quality links are going to improve rankings, as opposed to just having a large number of links. It’s also good to note that having links from poor-quality sites can actually lower your search engine rankings.
What are poor-quality sites?
When someone uses Google or another search engine to look for something online, those search engines want to present only quality sites, meaning ones that offer worthwhile content. Otherwise, visitors may get frustrated with their search results and choose another search engine.
To accomplish this, in recent years search engines like Google refined their algorithms or methods of ranking websites. One such algorithm they added actually measures the length of time visitors stay on a particular site. This was done to help lower the ranking of sites that may contain sufficient amount of information, but not necessarily offer quality content to visitors. Sites that are mostly spam, meaning lots of advertising or just useless fluff, may attract lots of visitors, but those visitors don’t tend to stay, as there isn’t much useful information or quality content to be read on them.
How Important are Backlinks & SEO for your Website?
Never underestimate the importance of a website for a business of any type; even restaurants, gyms, and other companies that don’t actually conduct business online will often have potential customers check a website for hours, prices, and location. If they can’t find that information, they may not visit!
If a brick and mortar business has to rely on their website being easily found online in order to maintain the growth of their company, imagine how vital it is for those businesses that do sell their products or services through their site! A website may very well be the backbone of a business; it can even be an entire business itself. However, like any brick and mortar that’s hidden behind other stores and difficult to find from the road, your website will do nothing to improve your bottom line if customers simply can’t find it.
This is where backlinks and SEO come into play. Both of these are vitally important for a company website to be found by visitors and potential customers. It’s not enough to just publish your site to the internet and expect it to be found, but like a brick and mortar store that might hang signs, mail out local flyers, and be listed in the local paper; proper local SEO with authoritative backlinks will get your site ranking, noticed and ensure potential visitors can easily find it when searching.
First, let’s make sure you understand the importance of search engine rankings. Many people don’t realize how websites get found by visitors. When you type a phrase into a search engine, for example Google, out spits a list of relevant sites to browse. This list goes in order by how they’re “ranked” by. The sites with the best rankings are the ones that will pop up first in the search results.
Note that there may be literally hundreds of thousands of sites that show up on that list when a person searches for something online. But given that most people only take the time to browse the first page of those results, it's important that your site has positive search engine rankings to appear as close to the top of that list as possible. Effective backlinks and SEO are two very important factors when it comes to a site ranking high in the search engines like Google.
What are backlinks?
A backlink is when another website points to your site’s URL. The hyperlink can be from a product description, service, or any other word or phrase; which is known as an anchor text. It can also link as a naked URL. Your site now links from another persons website and is associated with that particular word, phrase or topic.
4 Ways Your Website Is Losing You Customers
A high-quality website can bring customers and clients to the front door of your physical location, and get your online business found by an unlimited audience and customer base. However, a poor-quality website can actually wind up losing you customers. Your website is representative of your business, and even you personally; the impression customers and clients get from your site is usually the same impression they will have about your company overall. Note how a poor-quality website can translate into a poor impression about your business and lose you customers.
1. Poor design and organization
Consider what your customers and visitors will want to see first and foremost when they visit your site, and if they can find that information quickly. For a restaurant, it may be your hours, location, and phone number. If that information is small and obscure and buried at the bottom of the page, a customer may not even find it. If you sell car parts from your website, are those parts organized into a separate page for each car brand, type of part, and so on? If the parts are just scattered around your website, your customers won’t take the time to search and you will lose their business.
2. Long load times
Potential customers usually have very limited attention spans, so if they click on your website and it takes far too long to load, they’re likely to just click away and find another site. It's said that a visitor will wait about 2 seconds for a web page to load before a deciding to leave. By reducing the number of photos and videos or compressing them into a smaller file size and eliminating flash or other such programs that take longer to load than a standard page. Also, keep the site simple and clean so it loads quickly and easily.
Google offers PageSpeed Insights that allow you to test how fast your website loads. It also gives suggestions on how to fix these errors: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Is Your Website Tax Deductible?
Virtually every single business today should have an online web presence of some sort; this includes owners of hair salons, restaurants, and especially brick and mortar businesses; even if they don’t actually sell products or services over the internet. Customers expect to find adequate as well as accurate information about your business online such as hours of operation, exact directions, and preferred method of contact; just to name a few. Having a website also means fewer phone calls from customers asking for this basic info and hopefully more looking to book business with your company. As long as customers can find your business page and the content displayed on your website is informative and engaging. This can prevent interruptions of you or your staff not to mention just having a site alone allow your business to be able to easily advertise specials and sales.
Since a website is part of your business, you may automatically assume that the expenses to build and maintain it are then tax deductible. Keep in mind that you should always speak to a certified public accountant or lawyer to find out the tax laws affecting your particular business and deductions, and the following information shouldn’t substitute for advice you get from your tax professional. However, note a few principles about the costs of building and maintaining a business website, and the tax laws that may apply.
Website Start-up Costs
If you’ve developed your website but have not yet opened for business, the costs of paying a third party designer may be considered as part of your startup costs. Usually you are allowed to deduct some $5000 of those total costs in the first year, and then amortize the remaining costs over the next 3 years.
Website as Software
If you had a third party create a website for you and sophisticated program languages was used to to code your website or if the website is something you rely on to conduct business; this may be considered the same as software. You have purchased the design from a third party by paying them a fee, and that website works like software that runs a computer program, so you can amortize that cost over a three-year period, just as you would with new software cos
Google Is The New Phone Book – What That Means For You
If you’re of a particular age, you may remember a thick and heavy phone book or two sitting in your home’s kitchen. It was often the only reference you would use to find local businesses and their phone numbers, as well as other information they might have included about their hours, location, and even daily specials.
Today, however, business owners would do well to realize that Google is the new phonebook! Very few people use an actual physical phone book to find phone numbers and other info about businesses; for one thing, many people use cell phones and make their calls when on the road, so they can’t actually access a phone book very easily. It’s also noteworthy that numbers can change before a new phone book is issued, and websites allow a business owner to add much more information than they ever could in a physical phone book, even with a full-page ad.
Why this is important for businesses
You may not think your business needs a website if you don’t actually sell products online; owners of hair salons, restaurants, auto repair shops, and other such businesses may not think a website is important for their customers and clients. However, unless you cater exclusively to long-standing customers and clients who know where you are, your hours, and your pricing, how will new customers and clients find you? Even if they want to call on the phone to ask for directions or to make an appointment, they’ll typically still search online for that phone number itself!
Not having a good website, even if it’s a basic one, can mean losing out on this potential business. If new visitors to your business location can’t find directions or your hours, they may easily visit a competitor whom they can find online.
Risks Businesses Face When Advertising With Yellow Pages
Not long ago, the big yellow phone book was the only key to finding that new hairdresser, a reliable window repair service or perhaps a restaurant which delivered pizza. Sifting through listings, dialing phone numbers, and slogging through choices was all you needed to locate a nearby business or service.
But this was before Google, the internet and smartphones became part of our daily lives. Now that we rely on those for information, it’s safe to say that phone books are obsolete…
Today, when looking for a local dry cleaner, doctor, plumber or attorney, where is you research conducted? I bet your answer is as good as mine. Most of us dash online and ‘Google’ (it’s a verb now) up whatever we need, then click on suitable service providers’ sites that rank in the top of the search results. Your quick and easy research is complete! Google Is The New Phone Book.
Of course, the convenience and speed with which we find everything we’re looking for did not exist at one point. Indeed, Yellow Pages has become a thing of the past, and that includes YP advertising service; both physical (phone books) and digital (business listings).
The Present State of Yellow Pages
Today, most local business owners still ask “should I pay for yellow pages?" Granted, times have really changed, and even Yellow Pages has given the digital world a nod by rebranding as YP Marketing Solutions and including website creation into their list of services.
As the digital revolution set in, Yellow Pages couldn’t keep strong-arming businesses into paying hefty monthly charges (which they still do) to appear in their phone book pages. Few businesses if any see the advantage of using phone books to advertise when people hardly use them to search for products or services.
In fact, if a company still invests heavily in YP advertising in this time and age, then they should simply fire their head of marketing—seriously! To be definite, YP still has some strength, notably in sales and marketing. Customers who rely on them are actually pursued aggressively by a sales team that coerces them into purchasing advertising, while upselling to website creation.
Sadly, technology isn’t one of its strengths. This is especially evident to users who try to create a website using YP’s website building tool. Even though YP does provide website design and creation for small businesses, this service is outsourced, and their customers do not get direct or personalized attention. So just like most large corporations, it’s evident that they just care about numbers and not the individual client nor their business goals.
What’s more, the websites created are simply a generic sign or storefront, lacking crucial business tools or functionalities to enhance customer engagement. Ultimately, customers find themselves stuck in one or two-year agreements that can’t be easily terminated. Yet there's no way the site created could ever rank and even if it did, how useful could a potential customer possibly find it?
Now, I am in no way trying to bad mouth or slander another company especially one that’s been around as long as Yellow Pages. I’m just sharing from a business perspective, what I personally encounter with other business owners and clients, which of whom have or currently use YP Marketing Solutions.
Why should you believe me over them? Go over to Google and search for “YP.com reviews” and watch the number of complaints come pouring in.
Unfortunately, it’s the same story time and time again; business owners are sold false hopes of getting a lead generating website that ranks high in the search engines and end up getting stuck in a contract. While most business owners I’ve spoken with anxiously anticipate for that day the contract ends, others have been ‘burned’ so badly that they are afraid to invest their money into any form of digital marketing service.
3 Proven Tips for Local Lead Generation
When running a company that relies on local customers as the main clientele, such as a restaurant, retail store or a service based business, it's important to apply the right marketing strategies in order to generate more local leads. Websites, social media accounts, and other forms of advertising that don’t concentrate on finding local customers are nothing more than wasted dollars and wasted time. Here are 3 proven tips for local lead generation that work for any business.
1. Connect with specific local events and happenings
Find local events that your potential customers might attend and use those in your online or digital marketing strategies, but make sure to be specific with the name. As an example, if there is a parade held every year during a certain holiday, mention this directly in your ads; it might say, “A great place for Main Street Memorial Day parade-goers to rest their feet and have a cold drink this Saturday.”
Other happenings that affect a business may include weather or seasons. Consider how your local clients will search online for news about these events and use those terms along with your local city name, to help better target your digital marketing campaign as well as your audience. For example, “After seeing record storms in Erie, PA, you’ll need to turn to ABC roofing for all your roofing restoration needs.” Your clients may use the search term “record storms in Erie, PA,” so include that in your digital market ads as well. This type of local lead generation gets your business to show up in search engine results when potential customers search for these specific keywords online.
2. Create relationships with local bloggers and online writers
Search for bloggers, reviewers, and others who write articles about your area and ask them to review your location, or if they accept guest posts on their site. You can create local leads by having the blogger mention your business location in their lists of places to visit, or by dedicating an entire post to your company for home repairs, wellness, or whatever the industry. Be sure to stay in contact with these people especially when running any type of special or sale, when you introduce a new product, or for any reason that might impel them to write about your company again.
3. Share web space with other local businesses
No matter your business, it can be good to expand your website beyond just advertising your services, so your visitors are encouraged to linger. You can then share web space with other local businesses who will do the same for you; a roofing company’s website, for example, may have a page dedicated to other local businesses, such as a nearby chiropractor or restaurant. A decent limousine rental site would share other relative services on their page like photographers, disc jockeys, wine tours, etc. This creates local lead generation by taking advantage of each others established business and clientele.
5 Ways to Increase Sales and Find New Customers for Your Small Business
When you run a small business, you should always be concerned about how to find new customers and keep your sales numbers healthy, as your company is probably not yet a household name and may face some stiff competition in your chosen industry. At the same time, you don’t want to waste a limited budget when it comes to marketing and sales strategies. To ensure you’re getting all the customers possible through your doors or to your website this year, consider 5 key strategies for increasing sales and improving your company’s overall bottom line.
1. Set smart business goals
Small business owners are notorious for either having no business goals, or having too many goals that are simply out of reach. You may be thinking that your goal is to make as much money as possible, but smart business goals are going to be more specific, and attainable. For example, you might make it a goal to increase your profit margin by 5%, or decrease your cost of raw materials by 3%. A smart business goal might be opening a new location, or increasing your product offerings to better suit your customer base. Work with a management or marketing consultant company to create smart business goals that will help improve your company’s market presence, profits, and customers.
2. Improve the content of your website
When was the last time your website got a complete overhaul? Today’s web browsers work with different criteria than they did even a few years ago, so your site may not be so readily found by potential visitors searching for your product or service online. Interactive content such as quizzes or entertaining content such as videos can keep your potential customers and clients browsing your site; this will improve your site’s search engine ratings and reduce the risk of potential buyers clicking away too quickly.