Archive for Websites & SEO

An MVP Client Experience

This particular service oriented company, we’ll call them Company X (to protect their privacy), had been in business for 30 years relying solely on word of mouth for new client leads. This approach had worked fine for all these years so why should they change? The business had been successful enough to support and raise a family. The problem was that the client count remained relatively stagnant. The business was not growing. The son got involved as the Manager of Marketing and said to his dad, “it’s time that we started using the internet to promote the business”, something the dad was totally unfamiliar with. The son contracted with a company to build a website for the business. Unfortunately, that company only did web development. They were not skilled in SEO (search engine optimization) or social media so although the site was online, it was not showing up in the search engines and therefore was not being seen which resulted in no new leads.

We met the son through a business connection and began discussing their goals and objectives. We recommended using SEO on the site to help the visibility in search engines and one social media site to help promote the business. They chose MVP because not only were we a web design firm with quite a few years of experience, but we could provide the SEO and social media skills necessary to help get their website found on the internet.

About a month after doing the initial Local SEO and social media implementation, their website ranked on page one for a number of surrounding cities. This expanded their working territory and the calls started coming in. Needless to say, they were quite pleased.

A short time later, the son called and said that the site was down. Since the developer of the site was not maintaining proper currency in WordPress or its Plugins, the site got hacked. We were able to rebuild the site for Company X and they signed on for our standard monthly website maintenance package to protect it.

Fast forward less than a year later; the son told us that they had added two new trucks and 4 new employees to handle the additional business load. Company X is still a very happy client and we are very pleased to be maintaining their website for them.

The moral of this story is that you do need a well-designed website in today’s online world, but your site also has to be visible to potential customers who may be searching for your type of product or service. It also has to be properly maintained to avoid problems. Make sure you choose a company that has the experience and can provide all of these services for you.

Google’s New Mobilegeddon Update

Google has released many algorithm updates in the past, and we’re sure they will continue to do so on a regular basis. The last major update was “Pigeon” released in December 2014 followed by a minor update implemented quietly in February 2015, many suspect as a precursor to this most recent one. Their new update that rolled out April 21st has been dubbed “Mobilegeddon” by industry experts.

This new algorithm only affects Google searches made using smartphones. The results will favor websites deemed “mobile friendly,” giving them higher rankings than sites that are only optimized for desktops and laptops.

Google was reported saying “As people increasingly search on their mobile devices, we want to make sure they can find content that’s not only relevant and timely, but also easy to read and interact with on smaller mobile screens.” They even have a website that will assess your website for mobile readiness.

This change results in an even more critical need for businesses to have mobile friendly websites. Favoring mobile websites where searches are made from mobile devices seems obvious, and in 2015 you’d think most sites have mobile friendly webpages. Right? Nope. A study done by online Internet marketing firm Portent shows that many of the Web’s top sites actually aren’t mobile friendly. How does your website stack up?

Mobile use has increased significantly, and will continue to do so. If you have not been keeping tabs on the marketplace and already made your website and other online content accessible to the mobile world, you should start worrying about Google placement. If you really want to take advantage of the opportunities that online visibility has to offer, you should keep pace with the changing world around you and update your site now. your competitors probably already have.

If you need help either assessing your website, or actually making it mobile-friendly, please give us a call for a free evaluation.

How Important Is Your Website Name?

Many people assume the first step to starting your own website is the design. Not true. Choosing the right domain name is equally or even more important. It may be the hardest part of the site creation process. Once you establish your domain name, changing your mind later and transferring it to a new URL has more implications than you might think – not to mention the potential SEO losses that could occur by doing so. Therefore, it is very important to get this correct from the start. Here are a few tips on what you look for and why. But first a bit about SEO.

SEO Overview
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization”. SEO is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search engine results page (SERP) – whether it be Google, Bing, Yahoo or another search engine.
It is very common for Internet users to stop looking at search engine results after the first page or two. In fact recent statistics indicate that fewer than 20% even get to the second page. Therefore, where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic to the site.

The Importance of Keywords
Keywords are the most important SEO element for every search engine, they are what search engines use to match content against. Choosing the right keywords is the most crucial step to a successful SEO campaign. If you fail on this very first step, you will basically be wasting your time and money.

There are many ways to determine which keywords to prioritize. Usually the final list of them is made after an in-depth analysis of what the online population is searching for, which keywords your competitors are using and above all, which keywords best describe your site. You want very relevant keywords that are not highly used by your competition and that you have a good chance of ranking for. You must do this BEFORE you try to pick your domain name.

Keyword Driven URL’s
This is the hardest part to control; but when possible, you are better off choosing a domain name that includes your targeted keyword phrases instead of your company name. You can always purchase your company name or brand as a second domain and point that domain to your Website for those that are looking specifically for your company by name.

For example, if you are a marketing company in Milwaukee and you determine that “Milwaukee Marketing Company” is a good primary keyword for you, from an SEO strategy perspective it is better to use the domain “www.milwaukeemarketingcompany.com” instead of “www.yourcompany.com”. It does make sense to also purchase www.yourcompany.com and point that domain to www.milwaukeemarketingcompany.com. You will gain a competitive advantage when a person on Google searches for “marketing company Milwaukee”. In fact, you stand a very good chance of being listed on page one using this method.

Domain Research
There are many places available where you can find out if a domain has already been taken. Don’t use Google or other search engines to find out if a domain is available, however you could use Google and enter “find available domain names” to locate the services that can help you. Most people are familiar with the “.com” suffix so try to get that if you can. If you are able to find one, it also makes sense to purchase the .org and .net domains in addition to the .com. That way nobody can purchase one of these and take advantage of your keywords.

Choosing the perfect domain name is crucial to the survival of your website, and potentially your business. Many times people get so caught up in the design process that they forget that their domain name will usually be the first thing people see, and remember. Take your time, do your research, get second opinions, but be sure to get it right before you jump into web design.

5 Tips To A Great Website Home Page Design

Your homepage is the most important web page on your site. It’s the one that the vast majority of your online visitors will see first. It acts as your virtual front door, your online business card. Remember, you won’t get a second chance to make a great impression. If a new visitor doesn’t like what they see on your home page, their first reaction will be to hit the “back” button and move to the next site in their search engine results.

OK, so you got their attention. But it takes more than looks alone — it also has to work well. That’s why the best sites aren’t just great looking, but they also include the following design “Must Haves”:

  1. Clearly answer who you are and what you do
    Visitors need to know that they have landed on the right site. One that will service their needs or solve their problems. You have less than 10 seconds to get this point across.
  2. Use appropriate calls-to-action (CTA) in the right spots
    A call to action is an instruction to the visitor intended to provoke an immediate response, usually using a phrase such as “call now”, “find out more”, “sign up here”, or “visit our store now”. This is usually delivered using an eye-catching graphic or font.
  3. Include a compelling value-proposition
    Tell your visitors why they should notice you and take the action you’re asking for. Let them know you have what they need and that you can help resolve the reason they are here.
  4. Optimize for mobile devices
    With mobile traffic continually increasing, mobile friendly design provides a greater user experience. One can visit a particular site using any device and still have a great viewing experience.
  5. Update frequently
    Search engines like updated websites – Search engines record how often you update your website. The more you update your website, the more they will rank its web pages, and the more people will find you on search engines.

As indicated in #1, you have 10 seconds (or less) to hold the attention of your visitor. A well-designed home page builds trust, communicates value, and compels visitors to take the next step. Who are your best customers? What kind of presentation would seem “right” to these particular people and attract them to you? These questions can open the door to designing more effective websites that appeal more specifically to your target audience.

Great home pages effectively use layout, clear navigation, CTA placement, whitespace, images, videos, colors, fonts, and other supporting elements to attract and keep online visitors.
Designing your website is a critically important task. One that many businesses sadly don’t put enough emphasis on. Make sure you invest the appropriate time, money and effort into making your website the best marketing tool that you possibly can. After all, your business may depend on it.

5 Key Benefits Of Hiring A Web Design Firm That Also Specializes In SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to enhancing the visibility of a website by making it appear higher in ranking on the search engine results page (SERP). Statistics show that even appearing on page two is many times not good enough. Only 18-20% of online users look past page one.

We have been contacted, on more than a few occasions, by business owners who hired a web design firm to build their website only to find out AFTER implementation that their site was not indexed by the search engines. Why? Because the firm they chose only designed websites. They were not skilled in the science of SEO, which is a completely different specialty. This is a critical question that must be asked up front, before the website is designed, but the unfortunate truth is that many business owners don’t know enough to ask the question until it’s too late.

Custom built websites, while very effective, can be expensive. And if you’re a retail business with online shopping, a custom e-Commerce website can cost many thousands of dollars. Imagine paying that sort of money for a website that can’t be found. I have referred to this as like having a gourmet restaurant in the desert. It’s really nice but nobody knows you’re there. Not an enviable situation. The problem now is that the site is done and the bill has been paid. Retro-fitting SEO into an already designed website is more costly than planning for it during the design. Plus now you have to engage a separate firm for the SEO component thereby having two vendors involved instead of just one.

A firm that can design a great website and also optimize it for SEO has the following benefits:

  1. Cost Effective
    Including SEO as a part of the website design, rather than after the fact, allows you to incorporate the critical components necessary for the highest placement possible. There are many factors that influence ranking performance. One important factor is On-Page SEO, where you incorporate keyword density into your web page content/copy and use appropriate Title Tags. Planning the content is much easier when done with SEO in mind from the start.
  2. Increased Traffic
    Proper implementation of SEO, using tested tools and strategies, helps you increase traffic to your website. Web traffic to your site can continue to increase at a steady and stable rate by monitoring and tuning your SEO strategy. Thus, you can experience a constant improvement in your web traffic along with a boost in your sales.
  3. Credibility
    Search results that top the list in Google and other search engines are often considered more credible than other results. Being on the top implies that you are an expert in the field. A website that is frequently listed at the top of the results page also gains better awareness among Internet users. Thus, instills brand credibility and awareness so your business can achieve greater success.
  4. Return On Investment (ROI)
    SEO provides improved sale and business performance. With a small additional investment in the upfront website design cost, you are able to get maximum benefits and profits, resulting in a better ROI as compared to a site that does not show up high enough in the search engine rankings and is therefore not visited as frequently.
  5. Competitive Edge
    Savvy businesses optimize their websites with SEO to improve sales. If you want to stay in business and compete with your rivals, you need to have a website that uses results oriented SEO techniques. If your website leads the search results, you can attract more customers and grow your business. To survive in today’s competitive online business world, you need to take every opportunity to get ahead, and stay ahead, of your competition

Some businesses choose to build and optimize their websites on their own, while others hire professional web designers for the job. No matter how you approach it, having a website that is designed with search engines in mind is critical to the success of your business.

If you don’t have the in-house expertise available to accomplish this mission-critical project, make sure you hire a firm that can not only design a great website but also one that can get it listed high enough in the search engines to actually provide new business leads and make your investment worthwhile.