Is Your Website Secure? Why Your Website Must Have an SSL Certificate

Do you have an SSL security certificate on your website?

It’s easy to check.

Type in the name of your website and look at the top left-hand corner. If you see the lock icon, you’re secure. If not, we need to talk.

In 2019, website security — aided by an SSL — is no longer optional, especially for SEO purposes.

In fact, not having security measures can cost you business and literally drive away customers.

Lack of security can prevent you from ranking high on search engines.

It can affect the quality of your pay per click campaigns too.

Also, in today’s landscape of wary users who are worried about their privacy, failing to have a secure website causes people to have a negative view of your brand.

In today’s post, we’ll provide a quick and simple explanation on SSL certificates, give you specifics on why you need them, and provide the best options to resolve the issue asap.

So, What the Heck Is An SSL Certificate?

Think of an SSL like a padlock.

Your website is your home. Your visitors are the guests. The SSL locks the door to keep unwanted visitors from entering.

Your home — website — has many transactions, data, and information flowing back and forth.

SSL certificates were originally made for financial transactions, but they can also be used to create secure connections for other activities like exchanges of personal information, form submissions, and more.

We won’t bog you down with the details, but SSLs ‘encrypt’ — or block — important information from people and hackers with bad intentions.

At a minimum, it makes sense to have a secure website regardless of the specific reasons.

That was the thinking a while back — having an SSL is the sensible (but not required) thing to do.

Now it’s required — if you want your website to succeed that is.

Allow me to explain why.

The #1 End All Be All Reason to Have an SSL

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a minute.

Say they visit your website and glance at the top left corner of the window and see this:

not secure website

Or, what if they click the top left corner to investigate further and see this:

website not secure

Your site may or may not be secure.

Your sire may or may not be compromised.

Contrast this impression with another website in your nice that does have a secure website:

secure website

Safety, security, and a padlock icon vs. “the website might be secure, but visit at your own risk.”

Visitors are becoming savvier every day. Some even know what an SSL certificate is and won’t trust a site that doesn’t have one.

You need to have a secure website because the trust between you and your customers or potential customers is vital.

If your website isn’t secure right now, it’s likely you’ve lost at least one potential customer because they visited your site and saw it had security issues.

The sad part? Oftentimes the websites without certificates aren’t harmful or malicious in any way. They simply don’t have the right security measures installed. Either way, in the eyes of web browsers your site can be seen in the same category as a potentially malicious site.

You could stop here and decide to get an SSL installed for that reason alone.

Still, there are even more reasons why this security measure is vital.

Google Doesn’t Trust Websites Without SSLs (Anymore)

Google has…  a lot of power. 

You want Google to like your website for obvious reasons.

Did you know that not having a secure website can affect how well your website ranks on search engines?

How do we know this?

First, let’s start with a message from Google itself. Google is pretty cryptic when it comes to their methods. When they do make an announcement, it’s critical to listen to it.

Here’s their message regarding site security on Google Chrome:

google message

They also shared an announcement back in 2014 stating the inclusion of SSL certificates is now part of their algorithm. Sites with HTTPS are secured with SSLs:

https as a ranking factor

It’s been four years since this announcement. Think of how much more prevalent ideas like privacy and security have become. We’d wager it’s bigger than the “1 percent” of their algorithm they mentioned in the statement above.

Additional Ways Lack of Security Harms Your SEO

Google and other search engines measure a very large number of factors when it decides which websites to rank above others.

Many of these factors involve the way visitors behave on your website.

Not having a secure website can affect some of these important metrics.

Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate measures the number of times someone visits your website and leaves right away.

This makes sense. If a lot of people come to your site and leave immediately, you might not have the right information or your site provides a bad user experience.

Imagine someone visits your site and sees a message saying “this site might not be secure.”

Not good.

Having a secure website can help decrease your bounce rate because visitors will trust it more.

Time on Site

Search engines figure the longer people spend on your website, the better and more useful the information.

Bounces have the negative effect of counting as a bounce, but also they decrease the average time spent on your website.

Number of Pages Visited

You’re starting to see the trend. Google and other search engines want to see people visiting your site, staying for a little while, and checking out different pages on the website.

Again, the initial bounce lowers other important metrics. When you get a bounce, you get credit for 1 page visited only, which lowers your average.

The Bottom Line: Security matters for a number of reasons. Fortunately, SSL certificates are affordable and can be installed quickly.

Your Best Security Option

Don’t get bogged down by words like “SSL” and “encryption.”

Your simplest and most effective route for securing your website is simple.

Send us an email or give us a call at 507-281-3490.

We can easily update your website with an SSL certificate at an affordable rate.

Just a click of a button or a dial of a number and you can put your security concerns to bed.

 

 

Redesigning Your Website? 5 Creative Web Design Ideas to Inspire You

How long has it been since you redesigned your business’ website? Has your business grown in that time? How has your business changed? Does your current site reflect this? While some studies suggest sites should be redesigned every 2 years, there’s no definitive rule on how often you should update your web design. However, if your site is looking dated, doesn’t reflect your business’ growth, or isn’t running as well as it should, you can be sure it’s time for a redesign.

When updating your web design, it’s hard to know where to start. Sifting through web design trends, best practices, and different utilities is overwhelming, especially to the uninitiated.

We’re here to help with a few creative web design ideas that can help you narrow down what won’t just look great but work best for your business’ site.

1. Keep things Simple

Is your site looking a little cluttered? Even big business sites are struggling with cluttered sites that leave visitors feeling the pains of information overload. When visitors get overwhelmed on your site, they’re more likely to leave, costing you sales.  Instead, consider a more minimalistic design that prioritizes only the most important information and has a simplistic, easy to navigate site map. When visitors land on your site and know exactly what to do and where to find the information most important to them, it leads to a better user experience and more sales for you!

2. Have a Mobile Design

We can’t stress this enough—your site should be designed and optimized for mobile. Usage on mobile devices is only growing and sites that aren’t mobile optimized are being left in the dust. If you’re ready to redesign your website, make sure you also get a mobile design that’s properly optimized. This makes it easy for visitors to use your site on mobile devices and is also a positive SEO and PPC ranking factor.

3. Change Defaults

If you have a template site, change the defaults to mix things up! With just a few clicks, you can totally restyle your website, and give it a fresh new face that is more modern and better reflects your business. Just make sure to develop this new style across the entire site, rather than just a few pages.

4. Research New Utilities

Things have changed since you last designed your site and there’re a rainbow of utilities you can implement on your new site. Everything from video chatting features to customer review utilities are easy to implement on your site. Do some research on the different utilities available and which ones would most benefit your site and your business’ goals.

5. Look Outward for Inspiration

Even professional web designers face creative blocks. Look at Pinterest, articles, and your competitors’ sites to gather inspiration for your new site! What are other sites doing well? What could they do better? This will help you refine your image, so you can implement the ideas yourself or better communicate them to a professional. Remember though, you’re designing the site for your visitors, not for yourself. What you personally like may not always be what’s best to attract your ideal audience.

Web Design Made Easy

When redesigning your site, partner with the professional web designers, builders, and SEO professionals MLT Group. Our team will work with you to understand your business, goals, and needs to design a custom website that not only looks great but is easy for visitors to use. From design to build, we’re your web development partner and make the process as easy as possible.

Ready to redesign your site? Contact our creative team today at 507.281.3490 or sales@mltgroup.com to get started!

Digital Marketing Minneapolis – The Ultimate Guide to Working With a Minneapolis Digital Marketing Agency

When you Google “digital marketing Minneapolis,” you’ll see a wide range of results. How do you know which digital marketing agency is right for you?

You’re here because you’re curious about how digital marketing can help you grow your business.

As a business owner or decision making employee, you know you should be marketing yourself online, but you have questions.

Do you need search engine optimization (SEO)? Do you need to run ads on Google? Should your site be mobile optimized?

Should you be on social media? If so, which channels? Does social media marketing matter in your industry? 

Perhaps the most important question is what will digital marketing actually do for your business?

You want to take your business to the next level, but you want to make sure you’re getting a return on your investment.

Before we dive into specific answers to each question, let’s start with this premise.

Digital Marketing is a Tool to Grow Your Business

At MLT group are digital marketing goals for you are simple.

We use digital marketing to help you find more customers, increase your brand awareness, and engage your visitors.

Instead of starting with digital marketing tactics and going back towards the needs of your business, we start with your business goals in mind and create digital marketing solutions to meet your needs. 

The best digital marketing campaigns are customized because one size fits all solutions don’t work in business on or offline.

In our guide, we’ll discuss some of the individual components of digital marketing and give you the insights you need to make an informed decision for your business.

Why Digital Marketing is a Necessity for Minneapolis Business Owners

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a second.

He or she is looking for a product or service you offer.

What do they do next?

Do they grab the nearest phone book? Look in the newspaper?

No. Either on their desktop or phone, they go to searching for information online.

They go to Google and enter the service or product you offer into the search box. When they see the results, do they find your business? 

This is someone with either the curiosity or intent to buy your product or service.

From a logical standpoint, it seems like a no-brainer to display your business in front of people who are already looking for what you have to offer, right?

If the idea of putting your products and services in front of people who are actively searching for them isn’t enough, consider some startling pieces of data:

These numbers suggest that core digital marketing strategies are needed in 2018. Let’s talk about each of the individual components that can go into your strategy.

Digital Marketing Strategy # 1 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Consider search engine optimization the backbone of any digital marketing campaign.

Google accounts for a large amount of traffic on the web. SEO puts your business front and center for people looking for the services you provide.

If you search for a product or service online, chances are the results you see didn’t make it to the top of the list on accident.

SEO uses a number of different techniques. When you combine them, your website can begin to climb the search engine rankings.

On-Site Seo

On-site SEO is the process of optimizing your website by entering researched keyword data into your sites code, content, and link-structure.

Effective on-site SEO combines dozens of techniques implemented on just a single page of your website such as:

  • Adding keywords to your title tag
  • Creating keyword rich content
  • Adding keywords to photo alt tags
  • Adding keywords to headings
  • Providing relevant links to your pages
  • Creating a great overall user experience

Just take a look at Brian Dean’s infographic, the anatomy of a perfectly optimized page:

digital-marketing-Minneapolis-businesses

Not only do these techniques need to be used on a single page of your website, rather for each page of your website.

This is where working with a smart digital marketing company comes in. At MLT group, we take the guesswork out of your hands and do the heavy lifting to make sure each page of your website makes Google go gaga for your Minneapolis business.

On-site SEO is just the beginning. You must also use different techniques to show the search engines why your site deserves the top spot.

Link-Building

Google uses links to determine how much ‘authority’ your site has.

It considers a link from another site to yours as a vote for the quality of your information. In digital marketing terms, we call links from another site to yours ‘back-links’

To increase the authority of your website, you want to get as many backlinks from quality sources as possible, because they increase two important metrics:

  • Domain Authority – This metric measures the authority of your entire website
  • Page Authority – This metric measures the authority of a single page on your website

Take a look at our DA and PA shown from the Moz Backlink Researching Tool:

save image

 

To gain our current level of authority, we had to earn links from 107 different sources. 

Link-building is an art form, one that doesn’t come easily to business owners with little digital marketing experience.

We’ve built a network of reputable sources in various industries to help our clients gain the links they need to boost their authority and climb the search engines.

How does it work? Sparing you the nitty-gritty details, we reach out to our network to find reputable places on the web that feature businesses like yours.

If you work with us, you can focus on running your business while we focus on getting the right websites to notice it.

Research, Tracking, and Strategy

Research, tracking, and strategy are important before during and after you launch your SEO campaign.

Pre-launch, you need to make sure you’re using the right phrases in important areas of your website.

For example, you may consider yourself a ‘maid service’ but the phrase ‘house cleaning’ might receive more searches per month.

Once you find the key phrases you want to use, you’d perform on-site optimization and begin your link-building campaign.

You’d want to track the following important metrics to measure growth over time:

  • Positions of target keywords – Even a well-optimized page will take time to reach page 1 on Google, so it’s important to know where the pages on your site stand in the beginning. This helps set expectations and keep you focused on long-term growth.
  • Traffic – You’d expect to see your traffic numbers grow over time. Quarterly measurements provide solid data.
  • Traffic sources – Traffic can come direct, via search engines, from social media, or from people clicking on links to your site from other sites.

MLT Group Provides ‘Done for You’ Tracking and Reporting

We consider an SEO campaign mature after 12 months and measure the progress of important key metrics each quarter.

We provide our clients quarterly ‘scorecards’ giving them an easy to understand snapshot of their site’s SEO progress.

Imagine you’re working with us on an SEO campaign after 12 months.

You check your scorecard to find many of your services ranking on page one.

Your traffic has improved quarter over quarter, meaning more leads and customers to your business.

You notice a service doing well but in need of a little love. What do you do? You simply speak with one of our digital marketing specialists and we alter your strategy, implementing several micro-techniques you’re unaware of but get the results you want.

That’s the power of working with a digital marketing company. 

Keeping up with your digital marketing on your own and running a business is a tall task. Why not work with a professional?

Case in point, Search Engine Optimization is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Strategy # 2 – Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is different than search engine optimization (SEO).

With SEO, you can perform techniques on your own or work with a Minneapolis digital marketing agency to get traffic through your website from ‘organic’ search rankings.

Organic simply means you didn’t pay for the search results. As we discussed earlier, Google uses a variety of techniques to choose which pages show above others.

Search engine marketing involves the use of paid listings, which can come in many forms.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

Take a look at this search engine results page (SERP).

At the top, you’ll see the paid listings (PPC), move further down and you’ll see the organic listings:

Minneapolis pay per click
paid listings
Minneapolis organic search
organic results

You’re probably wondering how pay per click advertising works in comparison to organic search techniques.

Here’s the way to look at both.

Pay per click advertising does work, but it isn’t as effective as ranking your website using SEO.

Why? Because the click-through rates are much lower.

click through rate

Source: Modern Marketing Partners

Think of your own user experience. How often do you click on advertisements?

With PPC advertising, you can spend your way to the top of the results. With organic search, you must earn your spot, which is why they’re more trustworthy and convert much better.

The benefit of PPC advertising over organic SEO is the fact that PPC can provide instant results. 

Since an SEO campaign can take up to 12 months to mature, a PPC campaign can help you get traffic, leads, and sales in the short term. Many companies opt for using PPC while their organic results improve. 

How Pay Per Click Advertising Works

Pay per click advertising involves bidding dollar amounts (per-click) to get your business to show up in paid listings.

You can create a PPC campaign and set metrics like:

  • Daily budget
  • Bid amounts (the highest you’re willing to spend to receive a click for ‘x’ term)
  • Ad groups – these groups contain the keywords you want to target for the campaign

Each campaign will have a set daily budget limit, and you pay each time someone clicks on one of your results that appear for one of the search keywords you targeted.

The highest bidders get the top results. You must decide whether the terms you want to target are worth the cost-per-click (CPC).

This can be based on the price of your product, the number of leads you can convert to sales, and potential conversion rate of the page you send the ads to.

If you do use a PPC campaign, the following techniques will help them perform their best.

Keyword Research

For your campaign to be effective, you must make sure to use the right keywords as part of your PPC campaign.

How do you find the right keywords?

A few techniques are:

  • Competitor research – You can use tools like SEM Rush to see where your top competitors are spending their money on ads
  • Google Keyword Planner – The Google Keyword Planner is a tool provided by Google to give you important data such as average bid amount, traffic volume, and competition (example below)
  • Brainstorming variations – Once you have a sample of keywords you find through the keyword planner, search for variations of those terms to see if they are viable too

google keyword planner

Implementation

You can then use this data to come up with a comprehensive PPC plan.

After setting your target keywords and budget amounts, you can run a test period (one to two weeks) and check the results to answer important questions like:

  • How well are the ads converting to leads/sales?
  • Are you spending too much/too little for your target keywords?
  • How does your click-through rate stack up against your impressions?

These insights provide information you can use to alter your strategy over time.

If this sounds like a tall task, you can rely on a Minneapolis digital marketing agency like MLT Group to handle the process from start to finish.

Enter your information below and we’ll send you a free digital marketing audit




Digital Marketing Strategy #3 – Content Marketing

Content marketing goes hand in hand with SEO 

Many smart SEOs know the benefits of a solid content marketing campaign.

content marketing

The search engines want to provide the best results to users and it analyzes content to help make that decision.

Content marketing comes in many forms, but it’s the process of creating content that gives users what they want, is optimized for search, and persuades your readers to take the desired action.

So what forms of content does content marketing encompass?

  • Page content – From homepages to category pages to service/product pages and more, each page on your site can be used to attract visitors
  • Blog posts – You can use your blog to cover a wide variety of topics related to your industry
  • Social media – We’ll discuss in-depth soon, but social media can be an effective content marketing tool to build your brand and even convert casual visitors into loyal audience members or customers
  • Email marketing – Email is another useful channel to communicate with your audience, share informative content, offer promotions, and more
  • Media – Videos, infographics, photos, and all forms of media count as content marketing even though they aren’t in written form

These are just a few examples of content marketing. It’s an all-encompassing term that covers any aspect of communicating with your audience.

If you decide to work with us, we can explore each option in-depth. For now, let’s talk about how to create a successful content marketing campaign regardless of the medium.

How to Create An Awesome Content Marketing Strategy

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a second.

What impression will they have about your business when visiting your website?

Does your content answer their burning questions and address the problem they need to be solved?

Can they find the information they need quickly?

Will they stick around to check multiple pages of your site because they’re informative and persuasive?

Is your offering clear? Do they know why they should choose your business over the competition?

Do they feel like you understand not only their needs but the means with which they like to interact with your type of company?

Is it easy for them to engage with you?

These are the questions you need to answer before you create any piece of content.

Once those questions are answered, you can create a content marketing campaign that works.

Content Marketing With MLT Group

When you work with MLT Group, we collaborate with you to understand both your business goals and the target audience you serve.

Then, we conduct research to decide the best types of content to create, which channels to use, and a strategy to continue drawing in new visitors while keeping your current audience engaged.

Instead of treating content as an afterthought, we consider it a core piece of your digital marketing strategy.

Without content that reflects your brand, engages visitors, and works toward the desired result, you’ll end up with wasted time, effort, and money.

This is why choosing the right digital marketing agency in Minneapolis is important. You need to know they have the expertise and resources to help you grow your business with content marketing.

Our company puts you in touch with one of our SEO specialists to create the perfect campaign.

Then, we work with our staff of SEO content experts who can write content both humans and search engines love.

We’ll distribute your content across the right channels and track the results to make sure your traffic, brand-equity, and other important business metrics are seeing steady growth.

Digital Marketing Strategy # 4 – Design and Build

When you think of words like digital marketing, SEO, content marketing, etc you don’t necessarily think about the way your website is designed and built.

These two factors are critical to SEO success for many reasons.

User Experience

At the end of the day, Google’s number one priority is giving their users the best experience possible.

Again, putting yourself in your users’ shoes, imagine how they view your website.

Does your design look professional? Does it match the impression of your business you want to portray?

Is the site navigation simple and easy to understand?

Does your site appear and function well on a mobile device? Does it load quickly?

Designing and building a website with responsive coding, SEO-friendly coding, a simple-sitemap, and clear calls to action (CTAs) showing the visitor where to go or what to do next are all hugely important for digital marketing.

Let’s look at some of the important digital marketing and SEO factors related to design and build.

Design and Build Related Digital Marketing Metrics

Search engines keep track of the following factors that are informed by design and build:

  • Mobile friendly – Your site must be mobile friendly or it won’t receive favor on search engines, period, because Google has switched to mobile-first indexing
  • Bounce rate – A bounce occurs when someone visits your website and leaves right away. Slow loading websites, unprofessional looking design, and difficult to understand navigation can cause more bounces, which harms your SEO
  • Dwell time – The longer a visitor spends on your website the better. Professional design with effective calls to action and simple navigation can keep visitors on your site longer
  • Crawlability – Search engine bots ‘crawl’ through your website to find pages to ‘index’ or place on search engine results. Your sitemap, link-patterns, and site errors (or lack thereof) affect crawlability.

As a full-service marketing company, we keep your digital marketing goals in mind from start to finish, including design and build along with content marketing, SEO, PPC, social media, and all other forms of digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Strategy # 5 – The Suite of Additional Strategies and Services

When you work with us, we focus on providing the best solutions for your business.

This is why we’ve created an ‘a la carte’ menu of services where you can see exactly how much each service costs, how it benefits your business, and information on if the service is a good fit.

SEO, content marketing, SEM, and design/build are all core services almost any business should employ.

The following list includes services that can add even more value to your business.

Social Media Marketing

You know your business should be on social media, but which platforms do you use, how do you use them effectively, and how do you know if social media will provide good ROI for your business?

Working with a digital marketing agency will help you answer those questions in-depth.

There are two forms of social media marketing you can use — free and paid.

Paid Social Media Marketingpaid social media marketing

Companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linked in have paid advertising platforms you can use to promote your business.

You have many options to target potential customers like demographics, interests, geography, and more.

You can pay for impressions (simply the number of people who see your ad), clicks to your web page, or even more advanced metrics like email sign-ups, video views, page likes, and more.

There is a lot of opportunity to do well with paid advertising on social media right now because it is a newer industry, which means (for now) the costs aren’t as high as PPC ads on Google.

This is a section that deserves an entire guide of its own. The simplest way to understand the breadth of paid social media marketing is to talk to us.

Organic Social Media Marketing

Similar to SEO, you can create content for social media on your own or work with a team of experts at a digital marketing agency to help you.

The key here is to remember that social media isn’t just about likes, comments, and shares.

Just like SEO and other digital marketing techniques, it’s first and foremost a tool to help you grow your business and brand by giving users what they want and love.

There are many aspects that go into a social media campaign, but here are some useful tips:

  • Promote all blog content through social media to give it extra reach
  • Share interesting and informative tips with your audience
  • Use creative forms of media like video and infographics
  • Update your pages regularly
  • Gear your social media content toward a certain result and use strong calls to action

Online Review Campaigns

Did you know that the number of positive reviews your website gets affects your search engine rankings?

Positive online reviews also let potential customers know your brand is trustworthy and provides quality services or products.

We can help you create a review building campaign to reach out to your customers and generate positive buzz around your business.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is still one of the best marketing channels because it provides direct access to your customers and potential customers.

You can use email marketing to:

  • Share useful tips and information directly with your audience
  • Offer promotions and discounts
  • Sell directly to your customers (after educating them about your product)
  • Gather reviews
  • Encourage your audience to share your brand with their networks

We can help create custom messaging, design, strategy, and implementation to use email to reach your business goals.

Media Services

From creating corporate videos and commercials to creating logos to making infographics to creating custom graphics to use in your content, we provide a wide array of media services to add flair to your digital marketing campaigns.

Marketing Strategy

Our marketing strategy services help to create a full marketing plan for your business.

We can help you define your target audience better by using in-depth market research techniques and tools like surveys, data-driven research, and interviews.

We can help you craft a unique selling proposition, tag-line, and promotional messages.

We’ll help you cover every aspect of your marketing campaign from budget amounts to recommended channels, target campaign launch dates, the frequency of messaging and promotions, and much more.

Some companies come to us with a good idea of where their marketing needs to be and we provide the right solutions. If, however, you need a ‘ground-up’ solution requiring a digital marketing agency that works just like an in-house marketing professional that handles everything, we’ve got you covered.

Conclusion

Digital marketing is a tall task.

As a business owner, you already have a ton to focus on.

Why not work with a digital marketing agency that helps you save the time, headache, and frustration of having to be a marketing expert for your business.

We have the expertise. You have the drive and ambition that made you a successful business owner.

Let’s work together to build a successful digital marketing campaign. Fill out the form below and let us provide a custom plan to help you grow your business.




 

 

3 Reasons You Need to Integrate Your SEO and Content Marketing Strategies

Some business owners see content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) as two separate techniques that may or may not be used together. It’s no surprise as to why; business experts have long pitted the two marketing techniques against each other, trying to determine which is superior. We’re here to tell you that not only are SEO and content marketing both essential to your overall marketing strategy, but these two techniques actually work hand in hand.

If you don’t have a robust marketing strategy that utilizes SEO and content marketing, you’re missing out.content marketing

Today, we’re going to dispel the myth of SEO vs. content marketing and show you how the two techniques work together to help you gain visibility, improve your rankings, and market to your target audience.

Here are three reasons you should integrate your SEO and content marketing strategies.

1. They Overlap:

SEO is typically defined as specific, keyphrase-based marketing, whereas content marketing addresses broader concepts and ideas.

Although these are different techniques, they overlap in many ways. Think of it as SEO and content marketing having a “conversation” with one another. SEO requires certain things like using keyphrases and content. Content marketing meets these requirements. For example, you’re trying to rank for the keyphrase “custom flower bouquets.” To fulfill this part of your SEO strategy, you need original content that uses the keyphrase. Like a team, SEO states what is needed while content marketing delivers, both techniques complimenting each other.

2. Gain Backlinks:

Part of your SEO strategy should be getting quality backlinks. How do you get backlinks? Have great content other sites want to link to! Whether it be another industry leader linking to your blog or a visitor linking to your service page, backlinks can give your site a great SEO boost. But without engaging, useful content, you won’t get the backlinks you need.

3. Maintain Consistency:

To be effective, both SEO and content marketing require consistency. Just like you can’t set up your business and let it run itself, your SEO and content marketing strategies require consistent maintenance and engagement. Search engines like Google want to see your site is active with frequent updates, new content, and growth. Just another way that these two marketing techniques work hand in hand.

If you haven’t integrated your SEO and content marketing strategies, there’s no doubt your business will suffer. When working together, these marketing strategies can achieve maximum impact.

Ready to take your SEO and content marketing strategies to the next level? The professionals at MLT Group are here to help. With extensive experience in SEO, content marketing,  SEM, and a dedicated team, we can create and implement an integrated strategy that helps your business achieve its goals. Give us a call at 507.281.3490 or email our team at sales@mltgroup.com today!

 

 

 

 

 

How Does Website Load Speed Impact Search Engine Rankings

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been around since 1997 and continues to play a major role in how companies market themselves online. SEO drives traffic by helping sites achieve higher ranking on search engines. As with most technology SEO has evolved in the last 21 years and will continue to into the foreseeable future. According to Brian Dean at www.backlinkco.com Google uses at a minimum 200 separate factors to rank a website for relevant searches. Not all ranking factors are created equal and some play a much larger role than others when looking at SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). Some key ranking factors used in Google’s algorithm are domain age, title tags, header tags, relevant content, length of content and page load speed.

The ranking factor I am going to focus on here is page load speed.

It makes sense that Google uses load speeds as a factor when ranking websites. The faster a website page loads the better experience the user will have. In contrast, slow load speeds will frustrate users, and cost you in search engine ranking. This is true for Google Adwords campaigns as well. Additionally, a slower load will likely lead to a much higher bounce rate, which according to some SEO experts, will negatively impact your search rankings as well. According to Google research, the chance of a bounce on your website increases by 90% when a page loads in 5 seconds compared to 1 second. If the site takes longer than 10 seconds to load a bounce is almost inevitable.

Below are some factors that can lead to slow load speeds.

1. Sub-standard (cheap) web hosting.

2. Size of images. Images should be optimized (sized) for fast loading.

3. Videos hosted on the website. Embedding videos on your website using an external video player like Youtube will help to decrease overall load time.

4. Code Density – Basically the cleaner the code the faster the load.

5. Too many plug-ins. If you are using WordPress as your CMS this is something to keep an eye on.

6. Too many file requests.

In July of 2018 Google confirmed mobile load speed as a major ranking factor in mobile search results. With the increase in mobile usage, this is a more critical marketing imperative than ever. Statistics show that over 50% of all Google searches were done on mobile devices. 42% of Business to Business searches are done on mobile devices throughout the research and purchasing process.

According to Google, in 2017 70% of mobile web pages took 10 seconds or more to fully load content. As referenced above, slow load speeds can almost guarantee a high bounce rate and far fewer conversions. A page load speed of three seconds or less is what Google experts say mobile website should strive for. Longer than that and you risk a much higher bounce rate and much lower conversion rate.

Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how fast your website loads on desktop and mobile devices.

If your website isn’t as fast as it should be, work with a professional firm to help optimize your web speeds.

Understanding the Benefits and Drawbacks of Template vs. Custom Websites

Should you still choose a custom website in 2018?’

After all, there are many alternatives available to you.

You can start a WordPress website and get a theme for free:

template website

You can work with companies who provide ‘done for you’ options with quick turn around.

There are even companies who offer websites built by artificial intelligence that can create a new website for you in one day.

A custom website used to be your only option. But now you can choose a website option that’s best for you based on a number of different factors.

Spoiler alert – our company provides custom web design services.

Rather than just tell you the positives of our services and the negatives of others, we’ll give you the full picture when it comes to the custom vs template website debate.

Before we jump into the comparison, let’s take a look at some of the custom websites we’ve built at MLT Group

Custom Websites By MLT Group

custom website example

SEMA Equipment is a John Deere manufacturer with multiple locations and a customer base of thousands in the SouthEast Minnesota area.

The custom features on their website include:

  • A data feed that populates a dynamic product inventory
  • Email-marketing integration
  • A custom backend admin for updating advertisements, newsletters, photos, and more

This is a robust website with thousands of pages, which means SEMA relies on our expertise to make site updates and improvements for things like UX, SEO, and order processing.

Schreier Industrial services helps manufacturing businesses improve their processes. Our custom website design and color scheme help represent the company’s core values including precision, expertise, and rapid improvement.

If you click through to the website, you’ll see custom animations for banner images, body images, text, buttons, and more.

custom website features

Hip for Homes provides a perfect example of a simple small business website with unique features. Our favorite piece of the website is the homepage, which includes model home imagery describe each facet of home HIP provides products and solutions for.

Before we dive into the comparisons of custom websites vs template websites, notice that each of these websites are unique. They were created with the combined knowledge an expertise of forward-thinking business owners and design, development, and digital marketing professionals.

Template Websites

Template websites have a wide variety of functionality and features. From WordPress themes to more customizable drag and drop templates, you can do quite a bit with these templates, but they also come with drawbacks.

Let’s start with the pros.

Take Less Time to Launch

Many template websites can be set up in a single day.  A template website will require significantly less time to get up and running than a custom website.

The design and most of the coding is already done, so once you develop content for the site, input your logo, and add images and content, you’re well on your way to completion.

Cost Less

Generally, template websites are less expensive than custom websites.

WordPress offers hundreds of free themes you can use. Premium WordPress themes like Genesis Themes can range from $100-$500 or more.

Often, you can find site affordable site hosting, which can work well for businesses who don’t get a ton of traffic. Some companies, like Bluehost, offer hosting for as little as $3.95 per month.

Your costs also depend on who is implementing the template and how much manipulation needs to be done to the template design, potentially adding $1,500 plus to the cost.

Don’t forget monthly hosting and the cost of writing content for your site. Still, the final cost of a template site is likely to be considerably less than a custom designed site.

Options

You can choose from thousands of different templates from hundreds of different companies.

The templates themselves can be customized to a degree. For example, here’s a screenshot of a demo page from Studio press:

custom vs template website

This is not how the site would look when you buy it. Instead, you have options to configure the homepage with different button styles, images, captions, menu layouts, etc.

Also, many template website companies have built support features to make their offering more robust such as:

  • Email marketing tools
  • Done for you landing pages
  • Bull drag and drop builder functionality
  • Membership site integration

If you choose to buy a WordPress theme, you can customize your site even further using plugins, which are applications that add different types of functions and features to your template website.

If you have a very low budget and just want to “get something out there,” you can definitely go the template route.

Before doing so, however, take a look at some of the downsides.

Customization

While you can customize certain features, you don’t have nearly as much control as you would with a custom website and a team of designers and developers who can help you make updates to it.

Here’s a list of features that aren’t easy to add with a template website:

  • Backend databases
  • Animations and custom javascript
  • Membership site functionality
  • Event registration with payment processing
  • Custom graphics and placement

This is a short list of the hundreds of different features that are more difficult to add to a template website.

These changes can be done, but who is going to make them?

Oversight

A template website is perfect for someone who has a lot of time on their hands, technical knowledge, and the willingness to fail and go through frustration in order to get the end result.

If you’re a normal business owner who needs to spend the majority of their time working on the business itself, consider the implications of using a template website that only you have control over.

If there’s a glitch, you are the one contacting support to figure out what’s wrong with the website. Need to make a change? Either you’ll make it or you will have to hire a freelancer or web company to make the change anyway.

Contrast this with a custom website built by a team who understands your needs. If you work with MLT Group and need to make an update to your website, you simply pick up the phone or email us, we fix it, and you can continue to work on your business.

Security

Did you know that many template and hosting solutions provide security as an add-on? 

If you buy the base package your site may not be covered against security risks. Why is that important?

Hackers often target popular template solutions because they know there are many users to exploit. Make sure to check if your website solution comes with SSL encryption, captcha, backup, and more.

All too often, business owners who use low-cost template solutions can experience nightmare situations like their entire sites crashing and databases disappearing. Then, when these issues occur, they have no one to turn to for help other than the support of the template company, which may or may not be great.

Duplication

The biggest drawback of having a template website — for a business owner who wants to stand out in their industry — is the fact that you may have an identical site out there.

Does having a website similar to others in your industry provide a competitive edge?

You can go to lengths to make sure you choose a template others in your industry haven’t, but nothing is guaranteed.

Branding is an important factor in digital marketing because strong brands get better recognition on search engines and on social media.

Using a template website — while efficient — isn’t going to grow your brand’s presence.

Content Creation

Although content creation isn’t part of the development process for custom websites or template websites, it’s important to mention for one reason.

Our agency provides content creation services along with custom web development. Why is this important?

Content matters quite a bit. It helps your business rank well on search engines. It helps to articulate your brand, engage customers, and even make sales.

If you opt for a template solution, you have two options — hire a freelance writer or write the content yourself. With the freelancer option it’s possible — although not guaranteed — to have great content for SEO. The drawback is now you’re having to work with a separate contractor while working on your website at the same time, which means you have less time to spend on your business.

The do it yourself option can work, but it won’t work well unless you’re an SEO and content creation expert.

Now that we’ve explained the pros and cons of template websites, let’s discuss the pros and cons of custom websites and explain when our services would make the most sense for your business.

Custom Websites

Custom websites aren’t the only player in the market anymore. With increased competition, it’s our job to show you why our option makes sense for your business. 

And that’s the key. All things considered, a custom website might not be for you. That’s okay. We want to work with the right businesses and take on projects that are a good fit for both of us.

If you’re already convinced, go ahead and fill out the form below for a free consultation:




 

Now let’s start with the pros. 

Design & Branding

If you’re the type of business owner who likes to share the uniqueness of your business and have input on the way your brand is communicated, it’s wise to go with a custom website.

When choosing to go with a custom-built website you have control over all the aspects of the design, branding and call-to-actions.

Your design can also evolve as your business evolves. You’ll have access to a team of marketing professionals who can provide insights for your business over time. Perfect example — we helped many of our clients re-build their sites to be mobile-friendly after Google announced it would no longer prioritize non-mobile-friendly websites.

Working with a smart agency gives you the reigns to your site while also having an intelligent guide to help you navigate the course of business.

Scalability

Custom built websites can grow as your business grows. If you need added functionality, a custom website can allow the developer to add this over time without the potential limitations of a template website. This is important for certain businesses like e-commerce websites. 

We can also build highly advanced websites for businesses who need complex solutions like HIPPA compliant databases, thousand plus member membership websites, and online courses.

Unique Look

Your business is unique because you, the business owner or the marketing professional in the business, is unique.

Do you want a website that reflects your brand and only your brand?

In business, unless you have an unlimited advertising budget, a unique brand can be critical to your business. Combine that with the way we interact with businesses online, and having anything less than a stellar looking site can turn off your target audience.

Full-Service Marketing

On top of our custom design services, we offer full-service marketing — meaning we can help you with any and every digital marketing need you have from SEO to social media to marketing research and more.

Not only do we build custom websites, we provide custom solutions to help you grow your business.

We sit down and talk with you to understand your needs. We craft a plan as a team to help you stand out among your competition online.

Working with an innovative agency means you can work on your business instead of in your business.

We’re your strategic partner, meaning we care about growing your business just as much as you do.

That being said, there are a few drawbacks to custom web design.

Cost

Custom-built websites generally have a higher cost than template solutions. While you might have to spend more, you’re getting a more quality product.

If you’re truly cash-strapped, however, it might not be wise to spend thousands of dollars on a website. Custom websites are best for established businesses with solid revenue who want to take their marketing to the next level.

Time to Launch

A custom-built website typically takes longer to build. This is because we go through several quality control measures from start to finish to make sure your website is error-free, branded perfectly, and stands out in a sea of websites. If it isn’t worth 12 weeks of your time to create a great site, custom websites might not be for you.

Conclusion

We recommend looking at your business needs, website users, and your overall online marketing goals to help you choose the right direction for your business or organization.

If you’re curious about custom websites, let’s talk. We’ll give you a free no-obligation site audit and proposal to see how we can help with your online marketing.