Free Wins on Search for Your Business Online

Free Wins on Search for Your Business Online

Free Wins on Search for Your Business Online

We’ve talked before about steps to capitalize on your business’s new website, and how to formulate a strategy for developing content, tracking leads, etc.

Just in case that’s a little overwhelming, we wanted to post about some simple, free options that exist that can help you get your business on the map, initially, and start things off.

One quick step is to claim your Google Local listing. When people do a search for “best thai food”, or any of a number of other services or goods, they generally type in what they’re looking for in Google, and scan ratings. If you have a brick and mortar location and want to grab some of this Google Local love, just  go to Google My Business and follow the steps. It will ask for your address, your hours, give you the opportunity to upload pics, and create your Google Local listing. Google will send you something to confirm you’re the owner, and once you do that, then you have your listing. You’ll have a link that can be sent to happy customers so that they can review your business, and once they do that, your ratings will be visible for searchers to see. (Having an email template to send to ask for reviews is a good idea; it makes it easy to follow up with customers in a standardized way). In 2020 the way many people do their homework when shopping for a service is to ask around and then…Google. Star ratings might seem silly, but it’s a quick way to make a big impact. And it’s free.

Another pocketbook-friendly solution is to take advantage of the free accounts Google offers for businesses. If you have access to the backend of your website look up the directions for setting up a free Google Analytics account  and follow the steps. This particular tool is valuable because of the power of the type of information it offers; knowing where your traffic is coming from helps you develop a strategy to grow it. You can set up the frequency of reporting that’s most valuable to you (daily, weekly, monthly) and act accordingly as the information comes in. The Google Search Console is another asset that’s free; it monitors search traffic to your site and when paired with Analytics, can be a vital component of success in targeting your online marketing.

If your business sector is one with online directories or specialized social channels, optimize your involvement. Sign up with indexes and organizations and make sure you have vibrant social media accounts. LinkedIn is key for businesses, and publishing short, industry-relevant posts can be a great engagement directive. Plus all your business’s social media postings will appear in search too. 

Hiring an agency like DayCreative to handle your social media and other content marketing is a great investment, but if you need a short term strategy until that’s affordable, getting your business on the map with some initial moves you can do yourself is totally feasible…and, best of all, free.

So You Have a New Website… Now What? 4 Steps for Traffic Success

So You Have a New Website… Now What? 4 Steps for Traffic Success

So You Have a New Website… Now What? 4 Steps for Traffic Success

Investing in a new website or an overhaul of your old website is a significant undertaking. Once you’ve taken the plunge and gotten through all the decisions about appearance and content, you might think the shift is over, but the truth is, getting your new website constructed is just the first step in utilizing it to its greatest capacity.

Many people think that once you have a new site the leads just start rolling in. But you have to remember that just like in the physical world, you have to let people know your address in the digital realm, too, if you want visitors. They won’t just magically show up.

 

Step 1: Get Ready to Analyze

 

Google Analytics accounts are free to set up, and a little bit of research will help you understand how they can explain your site’s traffic to you once it starts. If your site was built by an agency like DayCreative, it’s likely they offer that service along with your design. An analytics account helps you see where your traffic comes from, and will assist with tracking new add ons as you develop them. Information from Google Analytics will help you develop your marketing strategy and drive future decisions once you begin to get a good amount of data – like how did they get to your website (search, social media, other website), what pages did they look at, what city do they live in, etc. Knowing that data can be very valuable in how you grow your business. 

 

Step 2: Tell Them You’re There

 

Once you’ve got Analytics in place, you also want to set up a Google Search Console account–another free service with Google, that tells Google’s web crawlers that this new website exists, so that they can index it to show up in Google searches. You submit a site map of your website, select geographic areas and demographics to target, and you can also set up reports to be emailed to you and choose the frequency. (Daily, weekly monthly.) It also suggests keywords to use, so that people searching for your services or products can find you; these can be incorporated into your blog posts (if you have them), social media, etc.

 

Step 3: Be Available (With a Chat Bot)

 

Another thing we highly recommend is employing a chat bot for customer interaction when you do get traffic on your website. You’ve probably interacted with a chat bot, yourself; a window pops up when you land on a site, asking, “How can we help?” and you type in your question, receiving a quick response. No filling out information in a contact form, no being taken to a third party site; the immediacy of a chat bot is the height of quick customer response. We’ve seen 4 to 5 times the increase in lead engagement for our clients with chat bot use, and that’s not something you want to ignore if client/customer engagement is an important part of your business. Once you’ve gotten the traffic on your site, you have to think about how to garner their interaction. Contact forms are good, having your info available is great, but a chat bot takes the ease of contact to the next level. It’s low effort for the customer, and it doesn’t have to be difficult for you, either; DayCreative uses Drift which utilizes a phone app and administrators can get notifications and respond through their phones. (Other services are available that have a number of use capabilities like Facebook Messenger and Intercom.)

 

Step 4: Create Compelling Content

 

Lastly…how do you get traffic to the website? There are a number of ways, but they all involve the creation of content that follows a strategy. Whether it’s as small as Tweets and Instagram posts, or as vibrant as regular blog posts, ebooks, or white papers, you need to have a content strategy and a production calendar that is consistent and compelling to your customer base. This is where search ‘keywords’ come in handy (what users type in google search to have your site appear); the organic traffic you can get from good content is significant, and social media engagement may be hard to develop initially, but it’s a sound long term investment. 

If it seems overwhelming, you can always engage an agency like DayCreative for either guidance or managed services each month. We’ve done this for years, but we also believe in making the process understandable and trackable so that you can see the return on your investment.

To sum it all up, getting a website is an important step in building your digital strategy…but it’s only the beginning. You have to put thought and effort into garnering traffic and cultivating leads.

 

Best Practices for Website Functionality

Best Practices for Website Functionality

Springboarding off of our latest ebook on Website Functionality, we have compiled some key things to keep in mind when creating or re-building your website.

Starting a Dialogue

No matter what tips or tricks you learn to attract visitors to your website, never forget the end goal: to convert those leads into customers. A great way to do this is to start a dialogue with your visitors. A few ways to do this:

– An inviting contact us page. Don’t simply make your contact us page a list of ways to contact you. Put in a personal message, tell them a little bit about yourself and your staff, and most importantly, invite them to reach out. And then make it easy for them to do so! Studies have shown that websites that have their contact information somewhere on every page of their websites have significantly higher conversion rates than those that only list it on their contact us page.

– Website chat. This is a great way to boost your conversion rates, as we can personally attest. You’ve probably already experienced a chat window popping up on a website you’ve visited that asks you something like “how can we help?” or “what are you looking for?”. These chat windows can be linked to your mobile device, or really any device you want to dedicate to it. Once a customer sends a message in the chat, an alert will be sent to wherever you designate it. You can then respond immediately.

This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out conversation, however. It’s as simple as asking what they’re looking for, listening to their response, and then inviting them to set up an appointment or send you an email to discuss it further. You can also set up automated responses to do the same thing whenever you are unavailable. This is a great way to connect with your visitors, and your conversation rates will grow like crazy.

Whitespace

This is one that is often overlooked, but is crucial to the design on your website. Whitespace is exactly what it sounds like: the empty white space on a website page. The trick here is to utilize the space on your webpage to deliver information, but not to overwhelm your visitors. Have you ever been to a website that had so much content on it that you didn’t know where to start? That’s exactly the kind of experience you want to avoid.

A good example is Google’s homepage. It’s almost entirely whitespace with their logo and search bar in the center of the page. But when you look at it, are you focused on the whitespace? No, because the whitespace is used to draw the eye to the actual content on the screen.

There is definitely a fine balance to this, however. Too little or too much can hurt your website more than it helps. The key to using whitespace is to not think of it as empty space, but rather dividers that break your content into neat little packages. Once you’ve done that, this leads to the next step, which is…

Scanning-Friendly Content

In today’s society, it is not enough to have the perfect content. Those neat little packages need to be labeled. The reason for this is a practice called “scanning.” The majority of visitors that find websites based on their search results are often looking for a specific piece of information, and if those visitors don’t find what they’re looking for within seconds of looking at a page, they return to the search results. They do so by quickly scrolling (or scanning) the page trying to find the keyword that brought them to your page.

Headers and subheaders are how you capture their attention. We’ve already shown you an example of this in our blogs. While each blog covers a topic, each sub-topic is bolded and uses keywords to grab your attention. It’s a lot like the exit signs on highways that display categories of what you can expect to find at each off ramp: food, gas, lodging, etc. Except in this case, the off-ramp is the content within your page. You simply have to label it clearly so that they don’t miss your exit.

Plus, as a bonus, organizing your content in this way makes it easier for the search engine crawlers to know what content is on your page and how to properly file your website in their index.

Navigation-Friendly Content

There’s nothing worse than taking an exit in a town you don’t know and getting lost trying to find your way back to the highway. Actually, there is something worse: the same experience happening to a visitor on your website. This can happen when a visitor finds a specific page on your website based on their search results and that page isn’t designed to be a starting ground for exploring your website. To avoid this, try some of the following:

– A well-designed sitemap. While having a sitemap is a must for every website, a well-thought out one is worth the effort, as you can use it as the springboard for all of your navigation for the website. Break your website into categories that use keywords that describe your website and your content. A sitemap is often where search engine crawlers begin their index of your website, so having it spruced up not only makes navigation easier, but makes the crawlers’ job easier, which means a better chance at a higher search engine ranking.

– Navigation headers. Many website design models allow you to create headers designed to create a miniature version of your sitemap at the top of each page. That way, no matter what page of your site a visitor lands on, they’ll quickly be able to find their way around your website and know exactly where they are. Most of these headers use your sitemap as a reference point, telling visitors what category and subpage of the sitemap they are on.

– Easy-to-click links. While having links to the other pages on your site are good to have, an easy to miss detail can make a huge impact on your visitor’s experience: the size of your links. That is, the clickable portion around your links. With an ever-increasing focus on mobile-friendly websites, this is a must. Any link that visitors have to zoom their screen in to click isn’t a link they’re likely to follow. In fact, it’s often a point of frustration for visitors, and if your visitors are frustrated, they’re motivated to leave your website rather than dive in further.

Wrapping It Up

Obviously, there is much more to website functionality than what we have discussed here, but our hope is that this will give you a basic understanding of the process and a few ideas of where to start. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a plan of how to implement this process for your website and start boosting your traffic, we’d love to talk with you about how we can do this for you.

A Look Ahead at December

A Look Ahead at December

Website Functionality Content Series

Next month, we’ll be discussing what makes a website successful.  Our new e-Book, which will be released on Dec. 1, is on website functionality and covers steps you can take to improve both your website and the experience that visitors will have on it.  Each week after that, we’ll be diving into the details of what exactly website functionality means and practical tips you can use for your website.  Here’s a sneak peek:

  • December 5th: Converting Leads into Clients
  • December 12th: Intro to Google Analytics
  • December 19th: SEO and Website Functionality
  • December 26th: Best Practices for Website Functionality

If you’re already on our mailing list, you’ll automatically receive your copy of the e-book when it’s released, as well as get notifications when each of the blogs go live.  If not, click the link below to get signed up!

SSL’s are No Longer an Optional Add-On

SSL’s are No Longer an Optional Add-On

When we wrote our e-book that was released a few weeks ago, we mentioned that Google’s emphasis on SSL in their rankings would only continue to increase. In the last two months, we’ve seen a major shift in the way Google is handling websites that don’t have SSL certificates installed. Here are the highlights:

– Every non-SSL secured website has officially been logged and flagged in Google Chrome.  Every single one.  What this means is that if your website does not have an SSL certificate installed, a box that says “not secure” comes up next to your web address in the address bar.  And while it may not seem like an issue if a user isn’t using Chrome, other browsers such as Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer have begun to follow suit as well.

– Non-SSL secured websites are now dropping off of Google’s search results, and it may be due to visitors, not Google directly. That “not secure” flag can cause visitors to leave your website shortly after visiting or once they notice the warning. Both of these factors (“bounce” rates and time spent on your website” are major factors in Google’s ranking algorithms that will lower your website in the rankings, slowly at first, but gaining speed as more and more users establish this pattern.

– To tie this in with our SEO blog from last week, Google is also ramping up their focus on the content quality of websites. Specifically, the EAT principles (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). They’re now placing an emphasis on websites that have very apparent contact information, a privacy policy and terms of service, and share links to other websites and vice versa. Google is now looking at website content and checking to see if: 1) the content is authentic, 2) the content is accurate, and 3) the content is trust-worthy (this is where having other websites link to yours comes in).

While that last one doesn’t deal specifically in SSL, it was a big enough change that we thought it warranted throwing it in here for your consideration. As you can see, Google is making massive changes in how they view and rank websites, and SSL is at the core of it. It’s no longer an optional add-on; it’s a necessity if you want your website to be seen by others.