Top 5 Tips for Marketing Online in 2017

Online marketing firstly, should be referred to as just ‘marketing’ as that is what it is. Approach it the same way you would with television or radio advertising, newspaper ads, flyers and sponsorship – you are looking for a return on investment. Whether that return is new clients or a sale, or perhaps just brand awareness, your marketing efforts online need to have goals and targets.

Tip 1.

Spending miserable amounts like $20 or $50 to boost your Facebook posts will do stuff all. Yes, Facebook insights might show you some ridiculous number for ‘social reach’ and then give you a number for engagement, but truth be told, you need to look at what really matters. Did that promotion give you anything back?

Boosted posts need to lead to an increase in page likes on Facebook, more web traffic to a specific page, or enquiries.

We recommend staying away from boosting posts here and there randomly, and focusing on Facebook ads with a decent budget. Decent being $200+ and on crafted ads with multiple ad layouts. By having multiple designs, you can target different people. One person might like one image, whilst another hates it. Get both clients by showing them two different images.

Use demographic targeting to narrow down your audience. This will ensure potential customers in your specific niche are seeing your posts and advertisements.

Facebook advertising works, and it offers you multiple options like carousel and video ads, lead forms, and more. Be sure to use the full arsenal to your advantage if going down that road.

Tip 2.

Everyone has heard of them, sales funnels, they work and are essential to capture your hot lead and convert it into a sale. Read more about them on Wikipedia.

People clicking on your online ads in Google search, or web banners, or social media links, are obviously interested in what you are promoting, be sure the page they land on gives them no distractions, convinces them further about your brand or product and leads in to a call to action such as buy now, enquire today or download now.

This will push them into taking the next step. If they followed an ad or search result to get there, they were obviously ready to buy.

Look at contextual advertising as the perfect example. You are targeting people looking for a specific product. If Tom is looking for a Toyota Corolla hatch, and was reading a review on the latest model, it wouldn’t take much convincing to click on a link or enquiry form which leads to your brand that sells new Corolla hatches.

Often referred to as inbound marketing, you are digging down to specific niches, and targeting Corolla buyers, with Corolla offers and ads. Same goes across the board with products and services. If you put a service in front of someone looking for that service, they are more likely to engage and buy.

Tip 3.

Don’t fall for the cheap website trick. They are cheap for a reason. If you want a website just so you have a website presence, do it yourself with WordPress or Wix. If you are looking to create a business website that is engaging, and works well on mobile and in Google search results, you will pay a premium price.

low cost cheap websites design

All the little things count, including user interaction and simple navigation on mobile and desktop, metadata and image tagging, content distribution networks and caching, favicons and Apple icons, tablet and smartphone screen responsiveness, call to actions above the fold and so much more.

A site that is setup well and loads fast on premium web hosting will perform better in search results, we guarantee it.

To put a price tag on it, web agencies offering your sites for under $1500 are misleading. I cannot count how many times clients have gone with cheaper options only to come back in a year to revamp the site and add all those features they should have got in the first place. Sometimes saving money in the wrong place will cost you more in the long run.

Do your research and find out what you need your website to achieve, then talk to your web designer and get answers on how they can make that happen. We do it, so I am sure all the others can too. Prepackaged deals are sometimes priced too good to be true.

Don’t neglect your web hosting either. We include domain registration and web hosting in our website packages, but its not cheap shit hosting. Its hosted on SSD storage drives with super fast DNS which feeds through CDN hosts to ensure fast loading of your website wherever in the world you are accessing it. Like I said, its those little things that are often neglected.

Tip 4.

Getting a return on investment for your marketing is essential for any business. Would you buy a newspaper ad in a community paper in another town you don’t operate in? No? Well showing ads to people not interested in your product or service could possibly damage your brand, as well as cost you unnecessary ad spend.

In 2017, target your audience. Investigate the options that will get you a better return on investment. A better return would include more targeted web traffic to your site or landing page, or more web enquiries through Facebook or your website, or perhaps more sales on your ecommerce site.

We advise our clients to focus on content. Being super helpful and useful, sharing what customers are looking for and giving more than you take, is what will help you get brand attention online.

So start a mailing list with helpful guides, or offer a free download of your latest app. List yourself in every relevant online directory, and research apps that people might try to find your service in like Yelp or TripAdvisor. If potential customers are searching for your product or service, they are keen to buy. Be sure they can find your brand!

Set goals for all your ad spends and marketing campaigns. Be sure you are getting something from them. Ask questions if your digital marketing agency is just invoicing you without getting solid results.

Tip 5.

Finally, be fussy with your selection of digital marketing agencies. If you have the time and knowledge to launch your own campaigns, sure, go for it. Like most of us though, we need to focus on the core of our business, and getting help with marketing will suit us best.

Choose an agency that is transparent in what they do, what they charge and what each service actually involves. After all, you are paying for it.

Secondly, be sure that agency can guarantee a positive result. Have they done it before? Have a look through their portfolio, or ask them for past client success stories. A quick indicator for some is checking social media feeds. A good digital marketing agency will have positive reviews, good feedback in posts and comments, and have a half decent page following. Page following can be deceiving though as likes can often be bought and boosted.

Be sure they are staying relevant and not just posting click-bait. Are they responding to comments and posts? Do they respond to page messages? Why aren’t they on Twitter? Is there a photo of the staff on the page? Social media should show a professional, yet personal view of the business.

How does that agency rank on Google search? After all, if they are offering to handle your social media, ads or SEO, shouldn’t they have good results for themselves?

get seo links and build content contextual linking

Get a Better Online Marketing Result in 2017

Hopefully these tips have triggered your interrogation mindset and you start asking the important questions. The one thing we really want you to take from this article is that online marketing is marketing. Treat it like your other marketing. Do not believe for a second that its going to be a cheaper option. To get results, it needs budget similar to that of traditional and offline media such as radio and television.

A client of ours last year pulled major money out of his radio campaigns and invested it in an online campaign across search and social media. What he got was measurable results with a better ranking in search results, more interaction on social media and an increase in page traffic.

Read what Amazon and Jet.com did

Online marketing has it’s advantages being the ability to get real time reports on results including clicks and reach, but it works best when tied in with your overall marketing campaigns. Match your flyers, TV and Radio, and newspaper ads with your online advertising and content, and you will get a much better result.

Happy Marketing in 2017!

Dave.

Do not Invest in a Dying Media in 2017!

It sounds a bit drastic or overstated, but with the future of ad content online in jeopardy, will your business continue to use it?

We have dropped a lot of banner ads for clients as they focus their marketing budgets on search optimisation, search text based ads and website content. Having found that many banner ads go unseen, and the real winners are AdWords, AdRoll, etc, we are educating clients on using inbound marketing techniques for their online marketing to ensure they get found by their ideal audience, as well as maximise leads.

When it comes to brand awareness, ads can help both sides – good and bad. Some companies go overboard with tracking and followups, and although it may return a high percentage of leads, are they also damaging their brand by being annoying?

With a lot of money being put in to online advertising, should we also consider that many tech savvy users are browsing with ad blockers in place, as well as using search engines like DuckDuckGo, to avoid seeing so many ads while they surf the interwebs?

I believe advertising is here to stay, although we just need to be smarter with the way it is used. If overused and abused, it will die a horrible death in the near future. I love watching the smart advertising that agencies come up with when I watch Gruen.

What is inbound marketing?

Wikipedia describes it simply as “a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization.”

It basically involves creating content worthy of your customers attention and sharing through social media, newsletters and blogging. Rather than throwing paid advertising in everyone’s face, inbound marketing techniques are less intrusive as they show useful content to people that are actually looking for it, meaning in theory, a better lead or engagement.

Think about a mailing list you can sign up for online. Many sales funnels are pushing to get email addresses from visitors before they provide their content. Are you going to stay subscribed to this list, or will you get the content you wanted and then unsubscribe? Many of these emails will stay on the mailing list as majority of signups will not be bothered to unsubscribe. Therefore, from the marketers point of view, its a successful growth of their mailing list. But is it?

What if you didn’t force people to sign up to your mailing list and left it to choice? Would they sign up? Would your list grow?

What? You want to join our mailing list? Sure, just click here.

The answer is yes. Maybe not as fast, but if people are loving your content and what you have to provide, they will sign up for more. Give them an offer along with the sign up and the signups may increase. The difference here is your sign up audience is more attentive to your content as they found you, and not the other way around if that makes sense.

As a marketer, you have to acknowledge there are pros and cons for both inbound and outbound marketing, but when thinking about the future of marketing and online trends, will we see more people shift their spending to inbound techniques?

Which is better?

This is a matter of opinion and depends on your type of business and your audience.

From a personal point of view, I would suggest companies focus on inbound marketing and primarily awesome content on their websites. The web is overwhelmed with ads and shit content. Lets start making great websites, focus on amazing content and useful guides, and allow people to make their own decisions in terms of newsletter signups and site navigation.

Although from a business point of view, your competitors are using online ads that stalk your potential customers, shouldn’t you do the same?

Once people start noticing that they are being flooded by ads and clickbait, will they make a conscious change to avoid more of it by using ad and tracking blocks? Will the money we spend on online ads reach a smaller portion of the online world as people avoid ads?

Will people realise? I mean, many are going straight to the source for the news like Trump on Twitter, rather than just believing the news stories…

It may not be a noticeable difference in 2017, but change is on its way, although we cannot guarantee the outcome. For now, your ad spend may still be beneficial to your brand, but what will the future bring?

I will definitely be interested to see what will happen. But I am also a bit bias, as we focus on website content and SEO link building through contextual links. I personally hate popups on exiting a site, although have used it on our own sites in the past. This site for example, xmediads.rocks strives to provide information and explanations of services for readers, and engagement comes from those interested in taking on website changes, SEO or advertising.

Content is still king, and sometimes ads can help get more people seeing that content, but in the end, it is up to you what you invest your marketing budget in. My vote is SEO!

Yours in marketing

Dave.

Separate your Brand to your Opinions

A major downfall of many business owners is that they are not open to new ideas, new technology and options that they are not familiar with. Not only can this hold your business back, it can make your brand look a little out dated or behind the times.

Clear your mind of No.

It’s not about listening to everyone and doing what the others are doing in your field, it is considering all options and working out what would work best with your brand and audience.

Many people are undecided about social media, and choose not to have a Facebook account for themselves. This could be due to privacy concerns or the time restraints. That’s fine, but it does not mean your business should miss out. Social media is a great way to show a more personal side of your business and give insight to your audience about what you do. It also creates an informal channel of communication that can often lead to some great feedback.

Whether you are on social media or not, there is a high chance your brand might already be. People will turn to social media and talk about brands before they contact the business itself to discuss an issue. There is an old phrase,  if you aren’t talking about your brand on social media, someone else is.

Ok, so you read an article about online advertising and search engine optimisation, and you are clear in your head that you need ads on Facebook and Google, and those ones that follow people around the web. From things you have read, SEO is old school and no longer relevant, its marketing agencies trying to take more money from business owners and it no longer makes a difference.

You are more than entitled to having an opinion, my only advice would be to try it for your brand first. Split your marketing budget to try both the pay per click ads and the SEO campaign. Even if only for 3 months, you will soon know what gets you a better return on investment, and which will create more permanent and targeted traffic in the long term.

Everyone is an Expert Now.

It’s true, our world is full of keyboard warriors and instant gurus that don’t hesitate to shove their opinion in your face. Don’t believe everything you read.

Be sure to get the facts and do your research. Many stories online are money making ploys or sales funnels, others are Chinese-whispers, and even more these days are from uneducated people making out to be the expert in their field.

Why do people claim to know it all and offer you their opinions, advice and secrets? From a web marketing point of view, it sells. The internet allows you to be as big or small as you want, and one way to rank best on Google is to prove yourself as an authority in your field of work, as well as being popular.

This can be shown by creating authoritative content and guest posts on news sites, as well as increasing social signals through social sharing and promoted content.

As a business owner, it is important to get the facts, read the fine print, and more importantly, get multiple opinions. Don’t get dragged in to a sales funnel just because their sales pitch is perfect. It won’t always fit best with your brand.

Where to get the best advice for your brand.

So you have read lots of articles, visited forums, and compared pricing, what now? Talk to other businesses in your field, network through groups like Business Enterprise Centers and local marketing networking groups. Rather keep it to yourself? Research your competitors using keyword research tools, and backlink analysis. This will help give you an idea of what they are doing online such as creating articles, helpful tutorials and guides, search ads and social media page posts.

When you see what is working for your competition, consider the pricing and see if you can do something similar or more developed. Having a great marketing strategy will help your brand get in front of the right audience, and its essential to find out who your perfect client is and where they can be found.

In 2017, focus for online marketing will be on mobile users, as more people search from smartphones and smart devices, and use both search engines and apps to discover products and services. Be sure to optimise your stragety to include mobile search.

Xmedia Digital Solutions can help you target more of your ideal audience through targeted SEO campaigns, content creation and authoritative link building. We can help develop your brand in to the authority it needs to be to get both traffic and sales. Ask about a free marketing strategy today.

Yours  in marketing, and all the best for the new year,

Dave.

Read this before you start your 2017 Online Advertising!

It has been an eventful year in terms of marketing, especially online with big changes to the Google search algorithm, use of ad-blockers and the way people search for products and services. Before creating your strategy for advertising in 2017, there are a few things you need to consider.

Where are your Customers?

We all rely on clients and consumers of our products and services, and when it comes to connecting with them online, we need to research our ideal audience, and assess the way they find us. While for years we have said that Google search is the essential location to get found, we know now that consumers are using mobile devices more as well as apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor. This means that simply showing up on Google will not guarantee you get found by your customers.

Its a bit like radio advertising. It is no good advertising on commercial radio stations when your ideal or most likely potential customer is listening to their own private playlist or hanging out with Triple J. It becomes a wasted investment. Same goes with your online ads. You might be showing your ad to thousands of people, but are they buying?

Focus on your product and the people who have bought it so far. How have they found you? For example, our services have always been through referrals and social media, so we invest time and money in connecting with people through email and social media content. If your audience is looking for you or your service, you need to ensure they can find you.

Many consumers now search on specific applications such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or local searches. This means that you need to be across all media associated with your product or service, and control what is being seen – contact details, reviews, feedback and possible negative content.

Is SEO really worth the money?

The short answer is yes. It is. SEO or search engine optimisation once meant getting you to page 1 of Google search. It still kind of does, although smart digital agencies are doing the research and including local content as well as citations to service finders such as the before-mentioned Yelp and TripAdvisor apps.

It needs to be more about inbound marketing than outbound marketing. Rather than throwing your brand out there to any one who will listen, throw it in front of the people who are looking and eager to buy or connect.

In recent SEO campaigns for our clients, we have been focusing on location based content, links from reputable sites in related fields, and blog posts that target a specific audience. This will not only help you get found on specific search apps, it will also still create relevant links that will improve your ranking on Google search. Its a bit of a WIN-WIN situation.

Is SEO a better investment than Pay Per Click?

Both have their merits, although for a long term investment return, SEO is the clear winner as it builds on trust and reputation through quality article content and links on reputable sites. Pay Per Click will create almost instant traffic, and can be very targeted, although will stop instantly when your budget runs dry. Another nail in the coffin for online ads is that more people are starting to use ad-blocking software to stop seeing pop-ups and banner ads. Google is even going so far to avoiding sites that have automatic pop-ups, especially on mobile devices.

It comes down to user experience as well. Take off the business hat for a minute and think about your online travels. Do you click on banner ads? Do you hate those video ads that just start playing, will you click on the Click-Bait looking ads on top of search results? What do you trust more, an organic listing on search or a directory, or an ad that is a paid placement?

SEO means listing your business in the right online local directories, creating content that makes you an authority in your field, sharing of posts to create popularity and links, social bookmarking and user generated content. All the things that search engines like Google are looking at to determine rank. Just like a viral piece of content, if your brand is trusted and popular, or at least looks that way, it will rank better.

In investment terms, this mean focusing on creating helpful and shareable content, guest blog posts about your services, press releases about what you offer, and local listings where consumers can find you. These are permanent and quality links and brand association that will stay even if your budget for one month or two drops.

Consistency is key, and although your budget might look like a roller-coaster ride, keeping a minimum SEO campaign in place is paramount to helping you rank better. Not only does it help rank, it will increase your traffic flow as it builds more links to your site, and helpful articles about your product or service.

We usually recommend our clients use a reasonable mix of the two, although with ads being kept strictly to text based search ads. With a campaign that targets your ideal audience’s search terms, we can deliver traffic that is more likely to engage with your website or brand, which ideally will increase your business’ bottom line.

Getting found in 2017

A lot will change in 2017, and how people find or search for you is one of them. With Google search focused on mobile consumers, and search terms looking more like sentences, we will need to rethink keyword strategies and campaign targeting.

With services like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, search terms are more like spoken word rather than specific terms. For example, people are more likely to ask their phone “find the closest jeweller that sells pink diamonds” than they are to just say “pink diamonds“.

It is all about anticipating what your ideal customer will do. Are they tech savvy or will they find you in a newspaper ad. No matter where they are, you need to be sure your brand shows up when they are looking for your product or service. How you do it depends on you.

Hopefully this article has given you some ideas for how you will run your marketing campaign in the new year. I would love to hear your opinions on the changes in search, your use of ads and SEO, or what you plan to do in 2017 with your marketing.

Yours in marketing. Dave.

INSIDER TIPS: SEO needs to involve more than just Google.

Whilst SEO or Search Engine Optimisation has always meant making your website show up better on Google results, we are finding that we need to do more than just create external content and jazz up websites with keywords, metadata and tags.

Whilst many will argue that SEO is dead, (they are wrong by the way) the fact is we need to broaden our horizons when referring to SEO.

Our SEO packages these days are more in depth and involve a multi-faceted attack on the interwebs. Why? Firstly, because people are not just Googling anymore. Fashion for example is one industry where people are using apps like Pinterest and Instagram to find what they need. To find a restaurant, people are using localised search apps like Yelp. To get some tips on travelling to specific locations, people are looking to sites like TripAdvisor, and the list goes on. So when creating your online presence, ensure you are listed and easily found where your audience will go looking.

You might also like to read: How to Rank your Website in 90 Days

Tracking down your Audience

As you can see, with more apps and sites these days focused on specific industries, your audience could be hiding somewhere else rather than Google search. Social media platform Facebook is used regularly to check up on a brand and to monitor feedback and comments from others. What we call ‘user-generated content’ such as reviews and replies to posts are what people are taking notice of. Two reasons for this. First one is there is a name behind the comment or review. It’s a real person (we hope) unlike what you might find in Google search results. Secondly, user generated content is just that, content created by users of your product or service telling the world what they think. It’s not just you or one of your employees stating how good you are and why everyone should buy from you. Social media content can be digital gold, and with more and more showing up in search results, it is worth paying attention to it.

When looking where to build a presence, think about your typical customer, or your ideal customer. Now imagine a day in their life. What would they get up to…..

{starts dreaming about fashionista Mia}

Mia wakes up nice and early every morning. She can’t be wasting her day. She is straight up and making herself brekky whilst checking her smartphone for the latest social media updates that popped up overnight.

After brekky she responds to the social media world and posts about her plans for the day. She is thinking about buying a new dress for that formal event tomorrow night, so she jumps on to Pinterest to get some ideas and see what the latest fashions are.

Mia needs to go to the post office, so decides she will look for that perfect dress at the same time. She gets to the post office and then wonders where would be best to start. She turns again to her smartphone and asks Google Now to show her dress shops in the local area.

She sees 3 results that are quite close, but two of them have multiple 5 star reviews. She Facebooks both shops to see what they have going on. Yippeee! One of them has a sale on. Mia is glad she checked the Facebook page!

{wakes up}

As you can imagine, the shop that got Mia’s business needed to have a fresh and current Facebook profile, as well as being listed in the appropriate online directories to get found in searches, as well as have good reviews from past customers. But where do you find time to do all of this?!

My advice is to focus on what is important. Be sure to get listed everywhere important. Book a local SEO plan that will list you on all the prominent directories as well as set you up on Apple and Google Maps, and with a Google Local business page. When it comes to Facebook, post at least once a day and keep it semi-personal. Got something interesting in store? Show it off. Celebrating a milestone? Show it off. People love knowing what is going on with your business, especially if it is current news. So keep your Facebook page fresh with new and interesting content.

You Might also like to Read: How to Setup a Facebook Page

If you don’t have time to do more than Facebook, then don’t. Many people will just look on platforms and apps like Pinterest to get ideas, doesn’t mean they won’t resort to Google or Facebook to find the actual shops.

Reviews are the next big thing to focus on. Got lots of happy customers? Ask them to leave you a review on your Facebook page or Google business page. Both are a great way to show others that people love your brand, the product, the service and what makes it special. Many business owners refuse to allow reviews on their Facebook page. This could be because they are getting trolled or the feature is being abused. Where possible, use reviews, even if you get a few negatives. This just shows you are real, the key here is to flood it with positive reviews to outweigh the negative. People all too often are happy to vent and leave a nasty review, so it pays to ask happy customers to go to the effort to leave you a positive review. You will be surprised at how many people are happy to oblige and leave you a review!

So once you have the big listings and networks covered, be sure to search the internet for industry related sites and apps. Think about where your ideal customer would look online. Look for your style of product. What results come up? Are there sites where you can get your business listed? Many industry directories are free to get listed in, some even allow you to add photos and videos. The more you can get out there the better.

Return Clients are your Gold

Treasure your customers, especially the happily satisfied ones. Not only can they leave you a review, they can bring you back more business. Happy customers talk, and the best advertising is word of mouth. A referral to a friend about your product or service will mean more to the person they tell than any of your advertising could.

To take advantage of this potential gold mine, keep your customers happy. Loyalty programs and cards, mailing lists and special offers are a great way to keep your brand in their mind. This is also an important time to ensure your business has a point of difference. Sure, you and the shop across the road might both sell gumboots, but you sell the half sizes and rare designer collections. Make this stand out. That way when someone thinks about gumboots, they think of you. Put it in your slogan, maybe something like ‘the perfect fit and look for any rainy day’ or something that mentions your point of difference.

Mailing lists can work really well for some brands. The secret here is don’t oversell. The advantages of inbound marketing such as mailing lists and post-sale emails is that the customer will come to you when they are ready. All you need to provide in that email is why you are the best in your industry, examples of happy clients, and special offers. That way when they need gumboots, who are they going to go to first?

Coupons and after-sale offers work well too. Don’t put too long an expiry date on them, otherwise people will forget about them. You want them kept on the fridge or in their inboxes to be scheduled in to their next trip to the shops.

Keywords are Changing

Just when people are starting to understand what a keyword is and how to research the best ones to use, they are starting to change and adapt to our current trends.

We have always encouraged our clients to utilise long tail keywords. These are almost phrases rather than single or double words, and are closer to a lot of the specific search terms entered into Google search.

With longtail keywords, it can be easier to focus on a niche and dominate it for specific search terms.

Now that we are seeing more mobile users searching on the internet, and newer phones making more use of voice search, we have to understand that this will change the search terms. With voice searches, terms are closer to natural speech than typed. For example, when searching for a local pizza shop in Maitland, you might have typed “pizza shop maitland” into Google. Now on your smartphone, what are you searching? It is more likely closer to an actual question like “show me the closest pizza shop”. Using your phones location sensor, your phone will now show you answers to match your search term that also closely match your current location.

Leave yourself open to variations in searches. Different people will search for different terms. Use tools like Google’s keyword planner tool to find common searches and build on them. If you are trying to find a local audience, it is good practice to include your location in keywords. Instead of just pizza shop, you’d use maitland pizza shop. Go one better and use words that people might search, like “best pizza shop in maitland” or “the best pepperoni pizza in maitland and rutherford”. There are lots of variations. Use a combination of the best keywords for your industry combined with go words like ‘best’ as well as your location or service area.

In Summary

It pays to research your audience. A lot!

Look at your past sales. Sometimes your ideal customer is not the person you had in mind. See who is buying your product. It can help to add surveys or questions to your sales process. Perhaps get a postcode from every customer, or ask where they found out about your store.

Try to isolate online websites, apps and networks where your customer is most likely to look for your brand. Sometimes an older clientele might trust Facebook alone, whilst a younger audience might like what they find on Instagram. Then again, it could be the exact opposite too.

Don’t try to be everywhere, just be everywhere that is important, and that means, where your customers are. Whilst it is still important to be all over Google search results, it also pays to be across popular apps and sites.

When it comes to searching keyword terms, think about how you would look for your product. What would you type in or voice search?

Hopefully this helps you get across search presence and the benefit of looking outside the square. We provide a flexible and tailored approach to SEO for our clients, offering a solution that suits their audience rather than just a generic link building package. If you would like to find out more about SEO for your business, ask for a free audit of your brand and web presence and get a tailored marketing strategy that you can even put in place yourself.

RELEVANT QUOTE: Authoritative Content is King. 

 

Hope this helps. Dave out.

This is what will happen if your Website looks shit on a Mobile Device!

Mobile Devices are here to stay

Not sure if you have heard the news, but Google has confirmed it will be focusing on websites that work best on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Mobile devices are used for a great range of things these days from helping in-store decisions on purchases to getting ideas whilst doing something.

As for these new changes, there will be a Google search primarily focused on showing great mobile friendly search results. Although they will still have just one index, it means if your website does not work well on mobile phones and tablets, it will drop in rank for mobile searches.  Here is what Google said on their blog:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”

Why is Mobile First Design Important?

Whether its a new or old website, you need to ensure your site is going to both look good and work on mobile devices if you want any chance at all of showing up on Google search results. With most searches these days coming from mobile and non-desktop devices, it is worth putting in the extra effort to get found on mobile devices. How often do you use your smartphone to quickly Google something, from directions, reviews or shopping?

SEO or search engine optimisation is about optimising  your website and listings so they show up well in Google search results, preferably on page 1 of Google, because seriously, how many times have you dusted the cobwebs off page 2 of Google search? This change has been coming for a while now, and smart business owners have taken advantage of it by making their websites responsive to screen sizes, or creating a secondary site solely for mobile users.

A website on a mobile device needs to look and work differently to that of a desktop. Firstly, from a user point of view, the site needs to still be easy to read and laid out correctly. This means choosing appropriate fonts and text size. Secondly, most of these devices will be employing the user’s finger or a stylus as the cursor. Your site navigation needs to take advantage of this with appropriately sized buttons and link boxes.

Mobile devices is a broad term and covers many devices. This is why we recommend using a responsive WordPress theme that will change it’s layout actively to suit the different screen widths. Phones are all shapes and sizes, there are Apple iPads in a myriad of screen sizes and displays, as well as other tablets, kiosk screens, advertising monitors and boards, and so much more. Having a secondary site dedicated to mobile is one thing, although it primarily focuses on phone and tablet screens, whilst its desktop counterpart takes care of the big screens. Sometimes there can be an in-between size where neither of these sites look and work well on. Our biggest headache has always been the iPad mini screens. They can be difficult to cater for with some website designs, especially because they need to look good using the device in both portrait and landscape view. #webdevlife

How do I get a Responsive Website?

Depending on what you already have, it could be just a simple upgrade to some code. Other times, it could be worth starting fresh and transferring your website to a new platform, theme or design. We recommend either Twitter Bootstrap or a responsive WordPress theme like Divi from Elegant Themes.

QUICK SHOUTOUT to Divi builder by Elegant Themes. As part of the Divi theme, the page builder makes things super simple, and I prefer the user interface of it more than that of the popular page builder, Visual Composer. The latest version also allows you to build and modify on both the back end and through the front end. The other benefit worth mentioning is being able to modify the screen size view for each module of the page. Perfect when you are trying to get something looking just right on a device like the iPad mini!

Having responsive sizing means that it is coded in to the CSS or cascading style sheet, and your website will include settings for different sized screens. This will then actively change your website’s layout dependent on that screen size.

To do this effectively, we need to ensure that the main navigation, images and text content is easy to see and use on something small like an older touchscreen phone. We also then should check how it displays on something like the latest iPhone with retina display. Images need to look sharp and crisp on all sizes, text needs to be easy to read, and navigation needs to be simple to use.

A RESPONSIVE SITE IS NOT ALWAYS THE PERFECT RESULT. We have seem many WordPress themes that state they are responsive, but using them on a mobile device is woeful! Be sure to always test the theme out and don’t just rely on the package notes stating a feature. After all, you might as well just have a great desktop site that looks half decent on a mobile device than a mobile version of your website that does not work.

What about website size?

I believe that size will play an important role when it comes to mobile first website design, solely because everyone wants everything now, and waiting for a website to load is a waste of time. Attention span? Think Goldfish! You need to make your information accessible as quick as possible. No wasting time on page load or confusing navigation.

Secondly, if more and more people are using mobile devices and phones on cellular networks, the amount of internet data they consume is going to be a key factor. So keep that in mind and scale your images correctly, optimise how much content is on each page, and please…. test it out yourself on an actual phone!

Test your website right now

The first place to start before worrying and planning changes is to check how your site performs currently. Plug in your web address into this Google doo-hicky and it will output a result. More green the better people!

[button link=”https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly” type=”big” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] TEST YOUR SITE NOW[/button]

 

So what will happen if I don’t?

It is quite simple really. Google will have the one search index but will tailor search results depending on the device they are shown on. If your market audience spends 90% of their time on mobile devices, and your website is not mobile friendly, when they do a search for a product or service you offer, you might not get found. But that’s ok, how many people use Google anyways, really?!

Don’t risk getting lost on Google search results, make sure your website caters for both mobile and desktop users. We have been designing and updating websites for business clients across the Hunter Valley to ensure that their web presence is mobile friendly. Most online directories work well on mobile devices. It is no use getting found on these and people clicking through to your tired old non-responsive website. Web is important, and for many businesses, is your shopfront. Make it always look its best. If you need help, employ a professional. My business is always available to discuss your options, and see where you are currently at.

Talk to the team today.

How to get on Page 1 of Google Search, and the Truth about Buying Links

Where do you search for products and services? Google?

For most people, and more and more these days, search is being done on mobile and tablet devices through Google search. Everyone is looking for the quick and easy way to do everything, and doing a quick search on Google beats the phone book or local directory almost every time.

Spend your marketing budget wisely

When it comes to deciding on where to invest your marketing budget, there are a myriad of options to consider including your traditional media such as radio and television, as well as so many different ways to spend both time and money online. But which one works best?

That depends on your business model, product or service and where your ideal audience can be found. Even though I have helped people with print marketing, video and radio copy, my primary focus has always been on digital marketing. Why? Because it works!

Spending $40,000 a year on radio advertising might help create brand awareness, or promote that special event, but when it comes to getting found at a time of need, online marketing wins every time. Even when people hear your radio ad, many listeners jump on their phone or tablet to look you up online, check out your website or find out more about what was just advertised.

I just heard about an airshow coming up, first thing I did was hit Google to find the official website or Facebook page for details. Even when it comes to shopping, most of my Christmas present ideas get researched and bought online.

So the smart budget is spent making sure that when people do search for you or your product online, they find you!

Getting on Page 1 of Google

It is not as hard as you think. Don’t think that your website has to be in the number 1 spot on Google search results every time someone types in your product or service. Do you really think your competitors don’t want the same thing?!

The secret here is to be everywhere!

First things first, directory listings. List your business everywhere you can that is either a local or industry-related directory. Use the exact same Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) you have listed on your website, this will help keep things clear with Google.

Next up, get listed on Google and Apple maps. Both are simple to get on to and they’re free listings. With smartphones making getting directions easy, you need to make sure you can get found.

While you are at it, be sure to fill in your business details with Google Business. This will help Google know more about your business, and also links with your Google map listings. It also allows you to add images and content that will get seen on Google search results. Pay particular attention to your opening hours, business description and profile image.

Once you have a Google Business listing, you can also start monitoring your online reviews on Google, and even asking people to create a review for you. We refer to this content as user-generated content. Like I say to all my clients: rather than you telling me how good your business is, let others tell me and it will build a sense of trust. Same goes with social media reviews and shares.

Which brings me to the next point of attention – social media signals. You don’t have to be on all of them. Stick to the ones you can manage. I usually recommend Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Social signals are starting to get results with Google search. Remember to post regularly and keep it slightly personal. Social media is about showing what is behind that big corporate brand or shop front. Let the public meet the people behind the brand.

Next up, Google Ads. Yep, it seems Google is giving text ads (Adwords) a good spot on their search results page (SERP) right up the top. On mobile devices, these are some of the first results we see. Before anyone sees any website results, Google usually shows about 3-4 text ads, Google business and map listings, followed by either more ads or the organic results. So text ads are a great way to put your brand in the results even before your website is ranking well, although it is not cost effective for all business types. Depending on your industry and competition from your competitors, it can become a very costly campaign with some clicks costing more than $10 with no guarantee of a sale or enquiry.

Advertising spans across a whole heap of platforms including social media, search and Google’s display network. You can also look at remarketing, which targets users that have landed on your website already. This gives you a second chance at getting a sale or enquiry from them. Different platforms work better for different brands and business models.

When it comes to choosing advertising, think a lot about your ideal audience or customer. What is their age group, where would you find them online, and what would they be looking for? Same goes for social media, if you are targeting business users you might want to utilise Linkedin or Twitter whilst others chasing brand awareness and feedback might find Facebook better. It comes down to research and testing.

Long term Investment for a Better Rank on Google

So you are listed everywhere you can find online, you are using social media, you can be found on Apple and Google maps, and people can review your business online. What now?

CONTENT!! Google is a search engine that looks for great content. Bottom line…. CONTENT IS KING!

Don’t believe all those spammy emails from offshore marketing agencies selling you cheap SEO or links for your website. Google’s search algorithm is smarter than you might think. Spam links and over optimisation will get you penalised resulting a lower organic search result.

Buying links is considered BLACK HAT. Evil. It might be tempting when you hear how fast they can help you get ranked, but in the long term, you could be throwing all that money down the drain when Google drops you off the results page totally. Stay clean, both for Google search and for your online audience.

Seriously, both Google and your online readers want the same thing……

Seriously, both Google and your online readers want the same thing – Answers to their questions, whether that is about pricing, images or product details, they want and NEED to be able to find out easily. Or they’ll just go elsewhere.

To do this, we need to make sure your website is optimised with all the necessary tags, metadata and content Google needs. We also need to make sure your navigation is simple to use on both mobile and desktop browsers, and gives people an easy way to find what they need. Here is a simple checklist I prepared earlier – click here for my website SEO checklist.

Once your site is optimised, keep it fresh with updated content. Start a blog page or share your latest updates. This will both give your readers a reason to stay on your site and even come back to read your updates, but will also keep the website relevant and current with Google’s search bots.

A decent blog post needs to be at minimum, 500-1000 words long. Remember your H1 header tags, and use internal linking to show off other pages and posts on your site.

When it comes to sharing content on your social media pages, use your newly created blog posts. Not only does this reduce you writing about the same thing twice, but it will also bring new readers to your website. If done right, they may even check out your other blog posts or even make a website enquiry. Wooohooo!

A great website and content is a perfect start to any SEO campaign, but now it’s time we need to tell Google search how good your site is. How? Back links! We already have some created – remember all those local and business directory listings?

Backlinks are external links from other sites pointing to your site. This shows that your site is worth checking out as other people are pointing/referring to it. The more the better. The trick here is making them look as natural and organic as possible. Many marketing agencies will tell you to use keywords or your product name in the anchor text for each link. Hmmm…. this can cause grief. Google hates over optimisation.  We usually stick to a 90/10 rule. 90% of links look natural, whilst 10% contain keyword specific anchor text. What is a natural link? Think URLs, business names, blank entries, etc.

That 10% we mentioned, it also helps if those links are coming from other sites that are already ranking really well. The more authority they have with Google, and if they are related to your industry or product, the better! If it comes from a trustworthy site like a .edu or .gov website, even better!

Where do you find backlinks? You make them. Remember me saying content is king? This applies with backlinking too. Guest posts and blogs on other sites are are great way to both show your authority and knowledge in your field, as well as create links back to your site. You can also troll forums and groups online to help out with comments and feedback. Most of these sites will allow you to link back to your website.

In my business, I use a pyramid shaped SEO plan for most clients with the main site being at the top. The second row will consist of a well written and created website with links back to the main site. From here, the third and fourth row sites will focus on different keywords and categories and link to specific pages on the second row sites. The rows below these will then build up bulk pointing to all of the above except the main site. By using well written articles written about my client’s product or service, we are providing great content for Google to find, and then by using a mix of link anchor text, we are building our 90/10 ratio of backlinks I need.

Of course this takes time, and building it up will usually take 2-3 months. It all depends on both the competition and the industry. Most important thing to remember is to keep it all legit. Google and your readers are looking for great content, help them find it. That is the bottom line. If you give them the best information, along with great call to actions to enquire or buy, you will be the winner.

If you can do all this yourself, awesome! Start now as the longer you are doing it for, the sooner your results will come through. Don’t have the time or the skillset to do this? Why not get someone like me to do it for you? We keep our campaigns transparent and our pricing is better than most agencies I know. Give your business some great options, contact me today and we can discuss what you are looking to achieve and my options and pricing to get that result.

ARE YOU AN AGENCY? We help other marketing agencies outsource their SEO campaigns to us, as well as content creation and website troubleshooting. We’d love to hear from you!

CLICK HERE to contact David Walter today & receive your FREE action plan!

Keep it Simple: Website Menus and Navigation

When it comes to good SEO practices and site usability, particular attention needs to be made for website navigation and header layout.

As a website designer, we need to consider these 3 things:

  • Ease of use on mobile and desktop browsers
  • Keyword specific labels for services or product page links
  • Simple to navigate without needing a GPS!

Lets expand on these 3 things and learn why they are important.

Browser and Device Compatibility

When we know that over 80% of people search for products and services on their mobile devices, we want to make sure that when they land on our website, it both works efficiently on smaller screens as well as being adaptable to standard desktop layouts. Consideration needs to be made towards button and link sizes as users will be navigating with their fingers. We can also incorporate mobile only options such as ‘call now’  and ‘get directions’ buttons.

Testing of your site needs to be done on as many browsers as possible. A recent WordPress plugin developer we dealt with only used Safari on his iMac and couldn’t troubleshoot or even acknowledge problems people were having with his plugin on PC desktops running Chrome or Firefox. Don’t leave yourself open to having a terrible looking site. Try all the main browsers like Google Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. You might want to also try a few different versions, as some people will not have updated their computer to the latest versions.

On mobile devices, test across Apple, Android based and Windows based smartphones and tablets.

Keyword Navigation Labels, for SEO purposes

This is only something we have been doing recently ourselves. As search bots like Google and Bing come to index your website and it’s pages, the first thing they get to read is usually your navigation and header area. In this area, make sure your site contains primary keywords, opengraph and social media data, meta titles and descriptions, as well as links to your main pages.

website navigation for seo
For example, this site (xmediads.rocks) uses side slide navigation on desktop and mobile devices and rather than the word “services” as a label, you will find navigation labels containing keywords related to what we do. For example, DIY SEO and DIY WEBSITE links tell Google that we help with search engine optimisation and website repairs and builds. Avoid stop words in your navigation titles too.

Keep Navigation Simple

After all, this is why we have menus, to help people navigate our site. Make it as user friendly as possible!

Don’t make drop down menus too deep or ongoing. Make use of subcategory pages if need be. Once again, don’t forget that your menu needs to work well on mobile devices!!

If you have your menu layout all worked out, be sure to choose the colours and text appropriately. Last thing we want is something that looks pretty but is absolutely shit to use.  Keep colour choice simple, and make sure there is good contrast, like black on white, or white on black.

Navigation is only a small part of your website, but can make a massive difference to the usability of your site. With people’s attention spans and tolerance levels ever decreasing, don’t let them give up on you from the start of your site. After site loading speed and find-a-bility on Google, navigation is the next most important step!

Get Your Dealership Website Showing On Google Search

Getting found on Google Search means being at the top. No one looks at page 2, and with mobile searches getting even more popular than ever, people will not scroll to find you. The top 3 spots on Google search are prime real estate and you have to work hard to get there.

To start with, we want to make sure your dealership’s website is on-page optimised. This simply means that it is optimised for Google and other search engines to index and know what your site is all about, so it gets shown to the right people.

Part of doing this is ensuring that components of your site are appropriately tagged using meta titles and descriptions on each page and piece of media (video and images) as well as ensuring you have adequate text content on your site that uses primary keywords.

Keywords can be tricky, but are basically the main words on your pages that tell search engines what your site is about. Headings and subheadings are definitely noticed here, as well as the first few paragraphs of text. Think about the audience you are attracting and what they are typing in to a search bar. For example, if Steven typed in ‘Best Small Car In Maitland’ or ‘Cars under $5000’ what do you think he would find? In most cases, sites like CarSales and NRMA/RACQ would come up with their own articles and comparisons. You could try to compete with this, or look at alternative search terms for a buyer closer to making a decision.

For example, if someone was searching for ‘Ford Rangers under $30k’ or similar, we might want to create a blog post on our website with homepage links titled ‘Why Toyota HiLux beat the Ford Ranger in Sales’ or ‘Second Hand Utes under $30k’. This will help create traffic with the right buying mindset to our website article, where we can then go on to convince the buyer of what car he needs, where to find it, and how to get in touch with your dealership.

If this article had appropriate headings and subheadings, image tags, appropriate keyword saturation and good meta data text, it may show up very high in search results and hopefully get clicks through to your website. If you don’t understand what we mean my meta data, keywords or image tags, it may be worth talking to your website developer or an SEO/digital agency for help. Please remember, there are a lot of web developers out there and some know SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but not all – just because they can create websites, does not conclude their authority in SEO!

The other 2 important factors concerning your website should be:

  1. Site loading speed
  2. Mobile friendly layouts

We don’t have to explain how much websites are now being visited by mobile phone and tablet users, or how attention spans are diminishing. Remember this when creating your website.

Next we look at off-site SEO, or the content we create that is not on our own website that will benefit us.

Local Search

For any business, it is vital to get found in your local area. This will help you get found on both Google map and business listings, and as you can see on Google search on your mobile phone, this shows up before most organic search results.

Step1.
Include a location term with your primary keywords. If you are a plumber in Maitland, be sure to use “Maitland Plumber” or “plumber in Maitland” as your keywords. This will help Google establish where your business is located and the area it services.

Also ensure that your website has your business address listed. We will refer to this as NAP, or Name, Address and Phone.

Step 2.
Build Citations and Directory listings. Getting found on Google search means appearing everywhere people look. This could include the map and local business listings Google provides, but also in local directories like localsearch, yellowpages and truelocal. That way, even without your website ranking at the top of the page, you are still able to be found and contacted.

We use our LOCAL SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO) PACKAGES, that start at $599. This is a one off fee to get started and includes GST. This price is accurate at time of writing, but be sure to get a quote first before planning to go ahead with this campaign.

The Local SEO campaign includes:

  • Up to 50 online directory listings and updates using consistent NAP
  • Update of Google Business and Map Listings
  • Photosharing on search and sharing sites with geotagging and linking
  • Up to 5 video shares for linking
  • 5 social media submissions

You as the client get the opportunity to supply the images and videos we use, or we can organise this for you. We recommend this package to start with before you continue with link building, as it ensures your business is listed in as many places as possible online. It will also use the same NAP as your website which is important as far as SEO goes.

Building Trust and Authority

So after spending $599 over the first 30 days, we have our business listed across the web, and people can start finding you through local online directories and listings. We also include your map listings on Google Maps and Apple Maps.

To help improve your first month’s efforts, we recommend tacking on a Pay-Per-Click advertising campaign. This will help build some instant traffic to your website, which will both look good to Google, and bring you paying customers. Of course, your website will need good call to actions and usability to convert these into sales, but that’s another article.

Step 3.
This is where we focus on content building and creating your authority in your field. To do this, we recommend having a blog on your website with fresh and helpful content, as well as the following link building SEO package, valued at $1900 per month inclusive of GST.

The link building SEO campaign includes:

  • Focus of campaign on 1-2 primary URL’s on website (homepage and services)
  • 500+ word high quality press release with embedded links/keywords distributed to over 100 authority news outlets. Perfect for product information and updates.
  • Guest posts to at least 3 top level authority blogs, with links from 20+ social bookmarks & blogs
  • Drip feed to 50 private network posts over 30 days
  • 5 articles with keyword/URL links and anchors submitted to niche related blog sites
  • 5 new high authority links
  • 50 extra posts on high ranking websites and blogs linking back naturally (no anchor text)
  • Monitoring of Google Webmaster tools for possible black flags and penalties

We also send all press releases to you, the client, every month for approval and to check the content. We use the primary keywords from your website on some of the external links. Note, we do not give all links to your site keywords as anchor text. On average, 10 percent of links will include your primary keyword in your anchor text, with the other 90 percent using natural link text such as your URL, business name, etc.

By using this method of linking, we help keep it natural and organic looking to search engines. With recent updates to the Google Algorithm, over optimisation of links and website content can work against you when it comes to building rank. The key here is keep it natural. Focus on content and usability for site visitors.

Guest posts on other websites related to your field will help build trust, especially if that website is already ranking quite well. We also recommend having a good mix of external links on your website, as well as these new inbound links. Manage your external links in the same way you would with internal links on your website. Use correct anchor text, with a proportion of them containing your primary keywords. Linking to sites related to your field, product or service will help make your site a hub of information in Google’s robot eyes.

When Jane Smith gets on her mobile and Google’s “find a plumber in maitland” she will get results including:

  • Google Business listing of plumbers
  • Google Maps listing and reviews
  • Pay-per-click advertisements
  • Organic search results and web links

The key here is to be everywhere. By having the local listings, Google Business listing, Google and Apple Maps listings and a paid advertising campaign in action, you will at the least, show up for the top 3. Good content and linking created with our link building SEO package will then slowly build up rank in the organic results, bringing you a 4 out of 4 result.

Another great way of building your authority in Google search results is through user generated content, specifically reviews! You can tell everyone you are great, that’s a start, but when other people say that you are great, that can work real magic online! Be sure to ask for reviews on both Facebook and through your Google business listing, this can also affect the way you show up in Google’s business and map listings. (especially now when Google is only showing around 3 listings, as opposed to the 6 or more it showed before).

Consistency is Key

Step 4.
When it comes to search engine optimisation, consistency is the key. Be across everything all the time.

  • Keep your local listings up to date
  • Build social signals by sharing content on your social media pages
  • Keep an active SEO link building campaign running every month
  • Ensure your website is up to date, fast and mobile friendly
  • Create fresh content on your blog or news pages

By doing all of these things, you will find your rank on Google improves as your site comes across as current, trustworthy and a good source of information. Exactly what Google is looking for.

Summary of spending:

Month 1 (First 30 days): $599 for local SEO campaign + any additional PPC packages

Month 2 (day 30-60): $1900 for link building campaign

Month 3 (day 61-90): $1900 for link building campaign

After 90 days/3 months of content creation, along with keeping your social media pages fresh and linking to your content, and building authoritative links to your website, you will definitely find your website will start ranking better, possibly even on to page 1 of Google! Will you get the top spot?!

We help clients get a better rank by doing an website audit to spot gaps and issues, creating a tailored marketing strategy, and by implementing Whitehat SEO techniques to build authoritative links. A recent local SEO campaign we an for Maitland Toyota, gave us a number 1 result for the search term “Toyota” in their local area. With so much competition from other Toyota dealers, this is giving them the edge when it comes to search results.

If you would like to know more about what we can do for your business, be sure to have a chat with us about your goals and big picture ideas. We love coffee, so a cafe catch-up is always nice, or perhaps just a phone or Skype chat. We’re easy to get a long with and keep things easy to understand and transparent.

SCHEDULE A MEET-UP TODAY

note: Having a budget of $2000/month can do great things to launch your brand online. We recommend building traffic to your website organically over higher ad spends, as your reach and traffic growth will continue to grow, unlike that from your online advertising. Online advertising needs it’s own special plan of attack including target specific landing pages for each ad, and call to actions that offer both something free and a better than standard deal. The bottom line is, people want more for nothing. The more you can offer, whether it is discounts or information that will help them, the better the result you will get from online marketing. Think about your own online searches and what you look for.

Google Hates Over Optimisation and Heavy Keyword Density

When it comes to helping your website show up on Google search results a lot of people employ SEO tactics they have heard work best. This can be fine, although with recent changes to Google’s search algorithm, it could do more harm than good if not done right.

Here is a recent post I did on our Facebook page about the problem and how to get around it. Please share if you found it useful….