Are Google Ads Worth It?

Are Google Ads worth it? Yes, but…

 

  • It’s one piece of a larger strategy
  • It doesn’t guarantee results
  • It’s NOT a magic bullet for your online marketing

 

While many small business owners know about Facebook ads and other social media promotional materials, you may not know just how much you can use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing to your advantage when you pair it with search engine optimization (SEO) and solid web design.

 

At MLT Group, we’ve seen many successful uses of PPC marketing tools integrated into a strong digital marketing strategy. When those PPC techniques are combined with SEO capabilities, that marketing strategy can go beyond a single-faceted tool and become a fully fleshed out system.

 

There are many options for PPC marketing available to you as a business, but by far the most effective tool in the entire scheme of the internet is Google Ads. It’s a big leap for businesses to transition from little-to-no assertive digital marketing to building a full Google Ads account. However, if used correctly, Google Ads can be the single most “worth it” PPC digital marketing strategy.

 

Basics of Google Ads

The basic role of Google Ads is to put your search result before any organic results.

 

 

“Organic” results are the natural search results. “Inorganic,” or paid results, are what you buy with Google Ads.

 

 

Google Ads can make your business seen, improving placement in search results and exponentially increasing that improvement as the number of clicks on your site are made.

 

The money you pay for each click goes to Google, and that means the goal of Google Ads is just that: click count. On one hand, this can mean more prevalence of your site being seen, but on the other, it is up to you to write compelling calls to action in the ad, build effective landing pages, and have the kind of website that’s actually worth visiting and engaging with.

 

The best way to cultivate the way Google Ads will handle your placement and which search terms will put your URL in a spot that will yield the most clicks is to set your Ad Goals. By setting your ad campaign goal, Google Ads can understand better exactly what you want to get out of a click.

 

 

 

Other tools you can use to generate data that will guide how Google Ads establishes your PPC ad campaign are Google Ads Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics.

 

 

Google Ad Conversions examine what clicks turn into other engagements and sales. However, most PPC experts recommend keeping an eye on the valuable information that Google Analytics provides. Based on the conversion data, Google Analytics uses an algorithm that will generate certain goals that are recommended you build a campaign around. Google uses the engagement results that clicks and further information about interaction with your website to build a goal that you may not be following now, but could benefit greatly from diving into.

 

Overall, Google Ads is a PPC marketing tool that will provide quick results, place your URL at the top of a search result page, and open the door for you to create new ad campaigns based on all the data Google gathers for you. When used correctly, Google Ads is a valuable tool worth the cost. There is no denying that it will increase traffic to your site.

 

 

It’s Not All About the Clicks

 

While, yes Google Ads will increase traffic, you have a lot more to consider if you want that traffic to mean anything. It doesn’t benefit you to have a user click on your Google ad if your website isn’t actually worth engaging with. Your Google Ad might hook a lead, but to reel it in you need a well-designed landing page and website. To get the full positive effects of Google Ads PPC, you have to consider several things that SEO can control:

 

  • Is your site visually appealing and user friendly?
  • Does your site load in under two seconds?
  • Did you build SEO correctly so that the search term used correlates to the goods and services you provide?

 

If you can use SEO to build a sleek, clean site and establish the right keywords in your content, you can combine Google Ads and SEO tools to maximize your investment in an ad campaign. Google Ads is an incredibly useful tool, but SEO still beats out Google Ads in internet traffic sources.

 

 

If you aren’t pairing Google Ads with good SEO and web design, then the money your business dumps into Google’s pockets won’t do you any good!

 

Stitching PPC and SEO Together

Organic traffic is the long game to PPC’s short game. Building organic traffic takes time, but it will generate a continually growing return as Google’s search engine and the Google Ads algorithms get to know what your website offers and what you are trying to accomplish with it.

When you invest in organic SEO, you build equity in your site. You invest in your site – not short-term gains from paid search results.

Overall, Google Ads is a tool you can use to increase traffic to your site, but PPC marketing only goes so far. You have to use good SEO practices to move your site to the top of a result organically.

If you use Google Ads as a crutch, you will soon see that users engaging with your site are not satisfied. SEO reveals whether your site is offering exactly what people are looking for even if it’s a PPC URL, and good SEO practices will allow you to expand and gain an even larger audience/customer base.

To help get the most out of your next Google Ads campaign, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

Is SEO Worth It? 10 Stats to Watch for in 2020

If you own a website, you’ve probably heard the term “SEO” kicked around or already use SEO already in some capacity. SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It’s a tool that you can use to make your website more likely to show up when someone Googles a relevant search term.

For example, if you own a ski supply shop and your website is where your customers can buy skis and ski accessories, you can use SEO tools to make it more likely that your shop will appear in Google search results when someone enters “downhill skis for kids” in the search bar. Using SEO successfully can be difficult, especially for website owners without experience in curating an online presence.

If you’ve just begun to use SEO tools or haven’t dipped your toe into it yet, you may find yourself asking, “is SEO worth it?” The short answer to that question is, absolutely. In fact, many website owners find their online traffic increases significantly with consistent SEO work.

We can talk all day about how Google and other search engines operate and why SEO is a critical tool to use if you want increase traffic from searches, but you don’t have to understand all the nuances and intricacies of search engine algorithms to see the answer to “is SEO worth it?” as a resounding yes. The numbers alone speak to this. In fact there are hundreds of statistics that show just how impactful SEO practices are on an internet-wide scale. Let’s cover just ten of the thousands of stats that show just how much SEO is worth it.

#1 – The first page of search results makes up 67.60% of all clicks.

Google pulls up a list of 10 organic webpage results (not including advertisements, images, videos, shopping results, or snippets). Those 10 results are almost 70% of every page ever clicked on. If your site is not showing up on the first page, there is a very low chance of a user clicking on it. In fact, the majority of users will try different search terms to find what they are looking for rather than clicking through the pages of a Google result. Because of this, it’s essential to have high-quality content with specific SEO keywords that lead people to your page in the first 10 results.

Line graph showing a steep decline in click-through rates from the first search result through lower results.
Source: Advanced Web Ranking

#2 – 90.63% of internet-wide content gets zero traffic from Google.

This means that only 9.37% of web content will ever show up in the search results. Let’s break this down. Google is the primary search engine used in the US, so it is typically used as the golden standard for SEO stats. This might mean part of that 90.63% is showing up through other search engines, but most likely it means it’s only being linked directly (a URL is typed directly into the search bar), it’s linked through other sites through what’s called a “backlink,” or it’s almost never seen. To be in that 9.37% of search results, you have to use SEO tools to your advantage.

 

 

#3 – Generating new content, such as blog posts, regularly can increase organic traffic to your site by as much as 106%.

Google and most other search engines favor sites that update content as often as possible. For many website owners, this can be achieved with a blog that is posted to as often as possible. One trick to getting new content posted on your website is to link social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to your blog. Every time you update any one of these, Google will see it as new content if it’s linked to your website blog.

 

#4 – Studies show that buyers do 70% of their research online before even opening up a sales conversation.

Using the same ski shop example, this means a potential buyer is searching for reviews, comparing options, and overall searching for 70% of all information they will receive before buying a pair of skis. Because of this, you want your website to be in the search results they find. Ideally, you want to establish backlinks from review websites, hashtags, shoutouts with your company tagged on social media, and other SEO tools that open the door more for your customer to find all the information they need online.

 

 

#5 – 2019 reports show that Google accounts for 75% of searches out of all other search engines.

In comparison, Bing is used 9.97%, Yahoo is used 2.77%, and Baidu is used 9.34% worldwide. That significant difference means you should be committing the majority of your SEO use to Google specifications. So, instead of muddling around several different search engine algorithms, you just have to focus on Google’s.

 

#6 – Google uses over 200 factors to create its search algorithm.

This means there is an extremely broad range of keywords and search terms taken into account when a user enters something into the search bar, as well as other factors like metadata, site speed, and “fresh” (or new) content. Since Google is the primary search engine used, you need to conform to how that algorithm can affect search results for your website. Fortunately, because Google is so heavily used, you really only need to understand their algorithm and absorb the valuable information that is publicly available on Google Support.

 

#7 – 70% of marketing experts have found SEO to be a more effective tool than PPC.

PPC (pay-per-click) is a marketing tool that Google and other search engines offer. While this tool does tend to place ad content at the top of a search, the competition is still high amongst marketers. Additionally, users are less likely to click on ad marked content (70%-80% of users ignore paid results). Users want organic results because they tend to be more specific to the search terms, thanks to SEO, and because they appear more genuine than a paid result.

 

In addition, here’s the other big advantage to organic SEO over PPC:

 

Organic SEO builds equity in your site. That is, you hold onto the value you invest in your high-quality site content; it continues to generate returns and becomes a foundation to build on.

 

With PPC campaigns, when your campaign budget is spent, that’s all money in Google’s pocket — not invested in your site.

 

#8 – Using voice recognition to search resulted in 40.7% of featured snippets.

Users are increasingly using voice recognition technology like Siri to perform Google searches. Nearly half of these results were pulled from a website snippet. Snippets are very useful, easy to generate SEO tools. Google Support offers instructions on how to build snippets into your site.

 

Screenshot of a Google Featured Snippet
The featured snippet for “difference between starter and levain.” If you ask a Google smart speaker this question, this is likely the answer you’ll get.

 

#9 – 50% of searches are queries of four or more terms.

Users want specifics, and they’ll type in exactly what they want in hopes of finding it on the first page of results. This means using SEO to connect queries to your site with the right keyword strings can improve your chances of showing up on the first page. For your hypothetical ski shop, one query example might be “light blue downhill skis.” If you can establish that and many similar search terms on your site, you can continually increase Google’s attention to your store.

 

#10 – Bounce back results are 50% more likely if your site takes more than two seconds to load.

You should be using SEO to make your website clutter-free, fast loading, and accessible. If your website takes too long to load (two seconds is a long time on the internet clock), users will most likely bounce back to other search results or start another search. You need to implement technical SEO techniques to optimize your site for loading speed.

 

Is SEO Worth It?

There are many other numbers, reports, and Google-led reviews that all show how SEO can truly affect your site’s prevalence in search results. To learn more about how we can answer the question “is SEO worth it?” contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

DIY SEO in Three Basic Steps (with Free Tools!)

So you’re interested in DIY SEO. No wonder. Outside SEO work is expensive. The best SEO results come from time or capital-intensive investments: content writing and backlink outreach.

But it’s still possible—sometimes even preferable—to be an SEO solo. Maybe you want to learn more about The Business before paying a professional SEO firm a lot of money. Maybe you have a small site and already enjoy writing. Maybe you just don’t have the capital yet to invest in SEO.

Toolboxes like ahrefs and Moz can be invaluable. We use them every day. But if you’re just stepping into SEO, investing in them right away is like buying a 4k 60” TV to watch old M.A.S.H. reruns.

If you want to try DIY SEO for your website, try out these three basic steps–with links to free tools–to get the ball rolling.

 

#1 – Build and Submit a Sitemap

Every second of every day the Googlebot scans the web. Googlebot is the software that Google uses to crawl through the internet and build a searchable index of websites.

A sitemap is file that describes the contents and organization of your website.

 

A sitemap describes your site’s organization to crawling software — not to your users.

 

Adding a sitemap to your website and submitting it to Google will make it easier for Googlebot to scan and understand your website.

Without being indexed by Googlebot, your site will not appear anywhere in Google search results. It is ESSENTIAL that your site is indexed and—if your site frequently changes—indexed regularly.

So how do you create a sitemap? You could do it manually. But you really don’t have to.

Thankfully, there are some free tools that will scan your website and automatically create a sitemap file for you. Here are two recommendations for free tools to create a sitemap:

 

Have a WordPress site? Use a plugin.

If your site is built in WordPress, just use a plugin to create your sitemap and upload it to your site. The Google XML Sitemaps plugin is used on millions of sites and is frequently updated. Let it do the work for you.

 

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog offers a free version of their SEO Spider Tool. If your website has 500 or fewer pages, you can download SEO Spider and use it to create a sitemap for free.

Screaming Frog does more, too, which is nice – it finds broken links and analyzes your metadata, among many other useful things. It’s excellent to help you maintain your technical SEO.

 

xml-sitemaps.com

Use xml-sitemaps.com to create a free sitemap, no downloads or accounts needed. If your website has 500 or fewer pages, you can create a sitemap file just from entering your website URL on their homepage.

 

Uploading and Submitting Your Sitemap

Once your sitemap file is created, you need to do two more things:

 

Upload the sitemap to the domain root folder of your website.

In other words, add the sitemap file to your website. Log into your cPanel for your website and open the file manager. The root folder will always be the folder titled public_html. Add the sitemap file to this folder.

 

Submit the sitemap file to Google and other search engines.

You can submit your sitemap a few different ways. You can do so directly through Google Search Console. This part’s pretty easy.

 

#2 – Keyword Research

Keyword research means figuring out the best language to use on your website to attract search traffic. Keyword research is a delicate balance between relevance, search volume, and competition.

Relevance

What do people search for when they want something that you offer? You need to figure out the most relevant keywords for your business and your goals.

Remember: think from your audience’s perspective. How would they understand and search?

This can be tough for business owners who know their own products and industries up and down, backwards and forward.

Step out of your expertise and imagine the common understandings of your offerings.

Search Volume

Search volume is simply how many searches are performed for any given phrase.

Many paid SEO tools like ahrefs give you valuable search volume data.

If you want to get a snapshot at search volume with just free SEO tools, try out Keyword Surfer.

 

 

This Chrome extension gives you search volume data for keyphrases while you’re using Google.

It’ll also give you ideas and data for keyphrases related to your search query. This can make it a great tool for discovering new, worthwhile keyphrases to target.

 

Competition

The competition are the other search results that are ranking high for the keywords you want to rank for. Trying to rank high for a competitive keyword could take far more time and money than you want to invest.

Competition can be difficult to gauge without paid tools, which can roughly calculate the difficulty of ranking keywords in the top 10 results.

A good rule of thumb, though, is to target “long-tail” keyphrases. That is, longer and more specific keyphrases.

A long-tail keyphrase has lower search volume, and that usually correlates with lower difficulty.

Long-tail keyphrases also make great targets because searchers who use specific searches are more interested and likely to convert.

For example, consider the difference between “wallets” and “mens slim wallets.”

Someone who’s searching specifically for “mens slim wallets” is probably a lot closer to buying a wallet than someone searching for “wallets.”

Even though there are fewer searches done for it, that traffic is more valuable.

And it’s even easier to rank highly for!

If you don’t have access to tools that give more insight into competition, keep long-tail keyphrases in mind.

 

 

#3 – Optimize Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

Once you have an idea of which keywords to target on your site, the easiest thing you can do is use them in your meta descriptions and title tags.

These lines of text are valuable real estate for your SEO. They’re the most straightforward, plain description of what’s on your site. They matter.

Use your most important keywords in the title tag and meta description.

If you’re a local business, placing your city and state in the title tag and meta description also helps quite a bit.

In addition, these meta descriptions and title tags are where you start to really put your writing skills to the test.

These are the first impression you have on new visitors. It’s like your storefront on the internet.

Write these to be informative and compelling.

 

In these two examples, we’ve got strong calls to action: “Shop Men’s Leather Wallets” and “Upgrade your style.” They’re both informative, too.

The first description packs a ton of information in: brand name, product, and shipping/return info.

The second description makes an image argument, placing style and durability at the forefront.

Both of these are compelling meta descriptions, and they make good examples.

The point:

You should carefully write title tags and meta descriptions for each of your pages that you expect searchers to find. Use each page’s unique keyword in these title tags.

Do not repeat keyphrases between these pages.

If you’re targeting the same keyphrase with multiple pages, then you’re just competing with yourself. Don’t do that.

 

Headings

In addition, use your main keywords throughout the headings of your webpages.

Like the meta descriptions, headings are valuable real estate for SEO. Use the same keyphrase that you use for that page’s title tag and meta description.

The words used in the title tag, meta description, and headings are very important.

I once saw a page rank #1 for fireworks in their city even though the business had nothing to do with fireworks. For some truly unknown reason, they had “fireworks” in their title tag. That’s the kind of influence a title tag can have. (And that also indicates how easy the competition was for “fireworks” in that area.)

 

What’s Next? Backlinks and Content

So far this guide has focused on very simple, cheap, starter steps for DIY SEO.

Using these tactics will set a little groundwork for SEO. These alone will not bring your website to page 1 of search results unless you’re in a real backwater of the internet (i.e. no competition).

To rank high against some actual competition, you need two things:

  1. Content.
  2. Backlinks.

If you’re serious about doing DIY SEO, it IS possible to do this by yourself.

The problem?

Both take lots of time to do well.

There’s no way to get around it. You need to invest time (or money paying someone) to get worthwhile results.

However, backlinks and content are absolutely essential if you want to rank for competitive keywords.

Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the top ranking factors for Google search results.

A backlink is when another page links to your page. Google treats this like a vote of confidence in the quality of your page. Because Google’s in the business of serving quality results, they’ll put quality stuff up front.

The best way to get backlinks is to write and post quality content.

That means useful content for your audience or adjacent audiences. That could be blog articles, videos, how-to guides, infographics, podcasts, you name it.

If your content’s really good, easily shared, and promoted, you can get backlinks naturally. If you’re just starting out, this is less likely.

You can also convince people to link back to your content.

Say you’ve got a baking blog and you write this super in-depth and awesome guide about the different types of wheat flour and their uses for bread baking. White whole wheat flour. Semolina flour. Strong flour. AP flour (all-purpose, for you uninitiated). All that good stuff.

Find other sites who would be interested in this content and reach out to them to see if they’d be willing to link to your page.

Quick pointers for outreach: lots of people will say no or not get back to you. Make a convincing but nice argument for why your content’s worthwhile to their site’s visitors. And have good content.

 

Content

As you can see, backlinks and content go hand in hand. Good content can get you backlinks.

Consistently updating your site with relevant content also helps in itself.

Consistently updating your site helps signal to search engines that your site is credible and worthwhile.

That’s why we still recommend blogging for folks who are serious about SEO.

An active blog allows you to constantly add relevant content to your site.

A blog will allow you to target more longtail keywords and drive traffic to the rest of your site.

If you (a) already enjoy writing, (b) are an expert in your industry, and (c) have the time, then you can create content yourself that can provide potent SEO juice. It’s definitely doable. However, that’s quite the trifecta, and it’s pretty rare.

Content and backlinks are what you pay the big money for in SEO. Producing good content takes a lot of time and expertise. Performing outreach for backlinks takes a lot of time and a good, methodical plan. There’s no software in the world that’s going to make good writing easy.

After DIY SEO

You can get a lot done by yourself if you’re trying DIY SEO. If you have the time, you can do darn near most of the SEO work it takes to rank well (depending on the size of your site and your goals, of course).

If you want to take your SEO to the next level, though, give us a call. We do national and local SEO every day. It’s our bread and butter. We use all the above tactics and so much more. Ok, pitch over.

 




Reputation Management 101: How to Get Customer Reviews and Why You Should Care

One of the most important factors in running a successful sales or service company comes down to proving to your customers or clients that you provide the best options possible for them. One of the best ways to do this is by gathering and sharing a large collection of positive customer reviews and testimonials. This augments your business reputation management efforts in ways that are much more effective than anything you can do on your own.

 

Consumers are much more likely to purchase a product or interact with a business if someone they trust recommends it. This creates social proof for your brand. This makes directories and social media and the entire friends and followers dynamic so important for digital marketing success. However, in order to reap the benefits, you first need to attract testimonials and reviews.

How to Get More Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Two main methods exist to get more positive reviews sent to you, posted on social media, and added on popular review sites like Google MyBusiness and Yelp. First, you can impress people so much with your exceptional products, essential services, and wonderful customer service that they are eager to spend their time writing up a five-star review everywhere possible. In order to succeed with any business, this is the type of thing you should strive for continuously.

 

The other way to encourage testimonials takes a more direct route. You can simply ask for them. Remember that it is absolutely not a good idea to incentivized reviews in any way. Do not hire someone to create fake ones or bribe people with discounts or freebies in order to leave you glowing reviews. If you want to succeed for the long-term without risk of penalization from search engines or the general public, keep things completely aboveboard and positive. A simple “Please leave a review if you were happy with your service” or similar phrase may increase your collection.

 

Some techniques that encourage people to post more positive reviews and testimonials include:

 

  • Asking for them directly but not excessively
  • Providing multiple platforms and options
  • Engage more personally with customers to build relationships
  • Show appreciation for customers who do leave reviews
  • Always ask for permission to use testimonials
  • Offer incentives wisely – never for positive reviews only

 

Business Reputation Management Tasks Off-site

In order to facilitate customer testimonials, step off your own website and social media pages and get involved with the biggest review sites online. Claim your pages and make sure that your customers know they have options. Many of these are dependent on what type of business you run and your target audience. Others, like Facebook, Yelp, and LinkedIn, offer more general possibilities and a higher potential as most people are on these sites as well.

 

While asking for reviews and directing people to these sites can help, you cannot control everything about the testimonials you get. This is where active business reputation management comes into play. In order to stay on top of your brand mentions online, track them and respond professionally and with excellent customer service skills if you get a negative review. Of course, it helps to encourage more positivity if you engage with satisfied customers as well.

 

Use Reviews and Testimonials On-site Effectively

Always ask for permission to post reviews or testimonials on your website. If you have ever purchased the product or service online, you have seen positive attributed reviews next to the particular item, on the front page below the fold, in a sidebar, or filling up an entire testimonial page of their own. You have perhaps come across re-posted reviews on a company’s social media feeds, as well.

 

From a company’s point of view, the ability to use these things in a controlled manner definitely boosts the entire customer experience. Not only do you get more content, which is highly effective at attracting interest from future potential customers and clients, you also get an automatic boost to trust and value. As mentioned above, people are much more likely to make a purchase somewhere recommended to them. Even a picture, name, and testimonial from someone they do not know can help push them over the edge from consideration to pulling out their wallet.

Source: thinkwithgoogle.com.

 

The Power of Brand Advocates and Fans for Digital Marketing

People who take the time to leave reviews become brand advocates and fans. In the entire world of digital marketing, and even before the Internet existed, one of the most powerful lead generation and conversion methods comes from word of mouth advertising. This comes directly from consumers instead of the brand itself, which automatically gives it more credence. It is one of the things that make social media the hottest platform for marketing today.

 

Getting and using customer reviews and testimonials represents one of the most powerful aspects of digital marketing that can help propel a brand from obscurity to household name status. Business reputation management represents a relatively complex problem for companies who do not follow all the best practices that consumers expect from them. Even those who strive to offer the best products and services and use exceptional customer service methods can end up with a bad review sometimes. While interacting positively with the dissatisfied individual and attempting to transform the negativity into something more useful matters, the best way to improve your audience’s overall impression is to encourage and share more positive reviews and testimonials. After all, the success of any company depends primarily on how the public views it.

 




MLT Group Donates Designs for Rochester Theater Show

MLT Group recently donated design work to help market a theater production from the Rochester Repertory Theater. As active members of the Rochester arts and business communities, we love pitching in to support local art!

Check out one of the posters we designed for the show Wandaleria:

 

 

Wandaleria is about the homebody Wanda who one day answers the door to find her prison pen pal, Rocky. The director describes it as a comic-drama, a “working-class, female-focused riff on the Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” See it this fall in Rochester, MN!

 

Essential Guide to Performing a Technical SEO Audit

Search engine optimization (SEO) remains a top focus of digital marketers across industries and niches. Understanding the basics of keyphrase research and usage, proper tagging, link building, and other on-site and inbound marketing techniques matters for ongoing success. However, leaving your efforts to chance can leave them incomplete or ineffective. If you want to ensure improved traffic, acquisition, and conversion numbers, a technical SEO audit makes sense.




 

What Is Technical SEO?

 

When Internet business owners and online marketers think about optimizing their site and its content for the search engines, they usually consider the types of things listed above: keywords, links, etc. However, these only represent part of the picture when it comes to ensuring higher placements on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

 

Technical SEO has to do with website ranking factors that make it possible for Google and other search engines’ bots to find, crawl, and index all of the pages effectively. It is about creating accurate code, ensuring fast load times, improving site security, and optimizing everything from design to database access.

 

For people without high degrees of technical knowledge, these types of things seem much more difficult and misunderstood than non-technical SEO practices like creating keyword-appropriate blog posts or creating a social media link strategy. However, options exist to make the process simpler. First, you can hire a professional team to take care of these things for you. Also, you can follow the steps below to get started on your own.

 

Why Perform a Technical SEO Audit and When Should You Do It?

 

The simple answer to the first part of this question focuses on the fact that badly operating or performing websites do not rank high in search engines. Things like slow load time, security issues, and errors indicate that the website is poor quality and Google should not recommend it to the people searching for information, products, or anything else. From a business owner’s standpoint, a technical SEO audit increases the chance of improving traffic flow, impressing site visitors, and ultimately snagging new customers or clients.

 

With all of these benefits, you may think technical investigations of your website’s optimization should be done as frequently as possible. Of course, no one has time to do this every day. Also, the search engine algorithms do not significantly change that frequently. Although some set up a monthly optimization check, most audit their sites every six months. If you make massive changes to the website or are aware of a Google algorithm update, do one sooner rather than waiting for a particular date.

 

Five Steps to an Effective Technical SEO Audit

 

Now that you understand why and when perform an audit that focuses on the technical side of things, follow these steps to set your site up for SEO success.

 

1 – Find All the Technical Errors

 

More than anything else, actual errors on your website will cause more problems with technical SEO than most other things listed below. These errors stop the search engine bots from accessing and crawling all the pages on your website. While crawl errors can cause considerable problems, understanding exactly what they are matters more if you want to fix them. Check for these common errors on your site:

  • broken links
  • 404 “page not found” errors
  • messy page URLs

 

There are free link-checking services that can scan your site and identify broken links. Use them!

When writing the URLs for pages, you want to ensure they’re concise and include the keyword for the page. Doing this helps both readers and search engines understand what the page is about.

 

Here are some examples:

 

 

Screenshot of a URL that's too long and contains function words.
Here’s a “messy” URL. This is the full title of the linked page, and full titles normally don’t make for good URLs. The keyphrase is at the end, and there are many filler words like “the” and “what” that can easily be removed.

 

 

 

Screenshot of a concise URL that emphasizes the target keyphrase.
Here’s that same page but with a concise URL. It starts with the target keyphrase and also includes a unique aspect of the page being linked.

 

 

2 – Check All Security Features

 

People and search engines prefer security when browsing, communicating, or shopping online. Although many factors go into overall safety when it comes to constructing a website, one of the most important for SEO purposes is the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) with security built in. If you do not have an HTTPS in front of your website URL, you may put people in jeopardy and end up penalized by Google and other search engines. As more consumers gain knowledge about security issues, they are much more likely to abandon a site if they do not see that S.

 

Without an SSL certificate, modern browsers will warn users about unsecured connections. You don’t want this on the mind of anyone visiting your site!

 

3 – Test Website Load Time

 

Google’s PageSpeed Insights test allows you to understand not only how quickly your website loads for search bots and users, but also gives specific information about what is causing the hang ups. In this world of ubiquitous high-speed Internet access and short attention spans, things need to load in three seconds or less to capture attention. A technical SEO audit must include an examination of how fast your content, navigation, and interactive elements appear on each page.

 

When it comes to maximizing search engine placements, speed matters. It influences things like bounce rate and stickiness. For a competitive edge over similar websites and content pages, you want all of these numbers to be as good as possible.

 

4 – Analyze Content and Keywords

 

Although both on and off-site content marketing and keyword research usually focus on non-technical SEO, they also represent a large part of every website from a technical standpoint. Make sure you focus on individual keyword phrases for different pages of your site to prevent keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is when you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword—it’s like competing against yourself.

 

You want to compete with other businesses, not yourself. Avoid duplicate content that can confuse the search engines and make them view all your pages as less focused and thus less important. Likewise, perform investigations to ensure that all of your metadata and descriptions are unique and powerful.

 

5 – Check for Mobile Friendliness

 

Google and other search engines reward mobile-friendly websites. The internet is becoming increasingly driven by mobile devices, so you need to ensure that your site looks great and is functional on the smaller screens. Tools like Google’s Mobile Test allow you to see how the layout, graphics, and content work on different devices.

 

 

A technical SEO audit done every six months or so ensures that your website is operating effectively for the two main audiences you need to target: your human readers and the bots that index your site.

 

Unlike traditional optimization methods, technical SEO creates the architecture and atmosphere that all of the content, keywords, and links exist within. Both aspects of your optimization strategy are essential for ongoing Internet business success.

 

Free Website Audit

Staying on top of your technical SEO is essential to maintaining your search result rankings. MLT Group provides regular SEO maintenance to many clients. Checking and redirecting links, monitoring loading speed, even updating old content—we do what it takes to keep your site running on a solid foundation for great SEO results.

Contact us today for a free site audit from our SEO professionals!




What The Romans Can Teach Us About Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing becomes more competitive every day, with almost countless individuals, businesses, and other organizations taking their messages to digital platforms. It’s noisy. It’s messy. It’s relentless. And while data science and analytics paint better and better pictures of our work, social media marketing can still feel like a crapshoot.

 

Times like these, we can find help in the fundamentals. I’m not talking organic vs. inorganic engagement or reputation management 101.

 

I’m talking basic principles of persuasion. I’m talking about the Romans, ancient Romans. Togas and legions. Those ones.

 

They, too, had their communication problems, and like any good writer or speaker, they stole ideas from others (the Greeks) and added a few pieces of their own. Rome’s most celebrated speaker and writer, Cicero, came up with what he called “the five canons of rhetoric,” that is, the five key ingredients to the process of persuasive communication:

 

  • Invention
  • Arrangement
  • Style
  • Delivery
  • Memory

 

These ancient canons of rhetoric can help us create, frame, and manage social media marketing strategies that are consistent yet flexible, persuasive but not pushy. No kidding. Here’s how, canon by canon.

 

Invention

 

“Invention” here means the creation of ideas, topics, and messages. Ancient communicators devoted much of their time to figuring out methods of invention.

 

What are you going to say? Who are you going to say it to? What does your audience believe in and feel? What about your company, brand, and product is unique and worth building stories about?

 

Explore these questions and much more to strategize your social media messaging. Don’t keep these core messages fixed forever, but have clear ideas and purposes when you do implement the messaging. Think before you speak.

 

Arrangement

 

“Arrangement” for Cicero and his fellow Romans meant the structure of the speech: the introduction, body, conclusion, and so on.

 

Strictly speaking, we can apply this canon of rhetoric to the individual messages we create. Is there a piece of the post that attracts the eye, a piece that first engages the reader, a piece that calls the reader to action? These are some basic building blocks of many social media posts.

 

But we can also apply the Arrangement canon more broadly:

 

How do you organize your messaging so that posts build upon each other? When does it make sense to cross-post between Facebook and LinkedIn, and when does it not?

 

Create posts that work with each other to build a coherent, compelling story about you. Build an overarching narrative to draw your audiences in and keep them around. (See why a clear Invention process is so important now? As we’ll see, these canons of rhetoric work with each other.)

 

Style

 

Style is more straightforward. It’s the tone. The feel. When Cicero spoke before a jury—he was a hugely successful lawyer—he had to make a stylistic call: sarcastic invective or stern Roman Citizen? Appeal to the gods, or appeal to the Senate and People of Rome?

 

Tone on social media is difficult, to say the very least. Strike the wrong tone and your brand could be dead in the water. Strike the right one and your brand could catch fire (the good kind). As soon as your business has a Twitter account, you’ve got the tiger by the tail. Speak well and keep it happy.

 

Your best education here is the real-world successes and spectacular failures of other brands on social media. See what audiences genuinely respond to.

 

Some companies like Wendy’s have made a success of being snarky on Twitter. Arby’s has decided to use food art, memes, anime, and video games references to sell roast beef.

 

A login screen for a video game is recreated using paper and featuring Arby's food.
This post (also cross-posted to Instagram) makes a video game reference. It still features Arby’s product, but its emphasis is on engaging  and entertaining their target audiences on these platforms (younger folks, to say the least).

 

 

On the other hand, during the viral #Laurel vs. #Yanny debate, the U.S. Air Force decided to introduce the unique sound that its A-10 Warthog makes while firing 4000 rounds/minute in Afghanistan.

 

Screenshot of a now deleted US Air Force tweet featuring an A-10 Warthog.

 

Yeah, that didn’t really jive with the vibe of the whole thing, and the post was soon removed.

 

Delivery

 

Delivery regards the performance itself. Another great Roman rhetorician, Quintilian, went to great lengths describing how the speaker’s toga should be handled during their speech. (Keep it neat at first; then, near your exciting conclusion, let the toga become disheveled to eloquently reflect your exertion.)

 

Now, no kidding, delivery is more complex—but just as important.

 

In social media marketing, delivery means deciding which messages should be pushed at what times and on which platforms. LinkedIn for B2B, Instagram and Facebook for B2C, and so on. Your chosen medium and target audience have a very close relation. “Medium is the message” and all that.

 

Delivery also means incorporating multiple media into your messaging. Mix up the medium you use to communicate. Company photos and other images, gifs, memes, infographics, good old-fashioned text, videos—a healthy social media strategy should rely on multiple channels to deliver messaging.

 

Finally, timing is a critical to delivery. The ancient Greeks had a great word for this: Kairos. It’s a word for time that expresses “the appropriate time” rather than, say, clock time.

 

Be sure to post regularly to maintain audiences and engagement. Consider having a regular series of posts that you deliver at consistent times every week or month, like the classic whiteboard Friday from Moz. Post an announcement when your company completes an exciting project. (Remember: “exciting” is defined by your audience and industry.)

 

In addition to scheduled deliveries, remain flexible enough to respond to any relevant current events and trends. Doing so can be enormously helpful, making your social media strategy more organic, and organic engagement is almost always better. Just wade carefully. Watch that tone!

 

Memory

 

And finally, we arrive at Memory. For Cicero, this was simply remembering what he had to say. He and many other speakers over the centuries have had many mnemonic devices to remember their speeches accurately.

 

For social media marketing, Memory is the part that drives us a little crazy, makes us a little paranoid at night.

 

Memory is the structure we build to ensure that all our good ideas and plans actually get implemented. It’s the “management” part of social media management.

 

You have to keep a handle on your Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram—each of which has the potential for great reach and engagement, each of which has the potential for a digital faceplant. You might as well be juggling career-ending katanas.

 

Thankfully, we have tools to manage our social media presence across different platforms. Hootsuite. Buffer. Sprout. Myriad others. Each has its advantages. Research them. Determine which is best for your business and audiences. Use one, lest your campaign sputter out and join the littering remains of countless social media initiatives on the internet.

 

 

Social Media Marketing with the Five Canons

The art of rhetoric, i.e. the art of persuasion, is very old. Above anything else, rhetoric experts have always emphasized the adaptability and dynamism of effective persuasion. These Five Canons blend with each other and are most definitely not a Step 1, Step 2 process.

 

If you never come back to Invention, your strategy will fail. If you never adapt your tone for the situation, your strategy will fail. Think on your feet. Never stop reading the room. Have a plan, but be willing to throw it out. Social media marketing is a crapshoot. Knowing some rhetoric will help. Smart speakers and writers have been discussing how to best persuade audiences for millennia. Don’t leave all that learning on the table when you sign into Facebook.

 




 

 

Manufacturing Marketing Essentials: How to Develop an SEO Strategy

Effective search engine optimization (SEO) for your manufacturing marketing needs a craftsman’s approach: methodical, deft, patient.

The target audiences of SEO are always people, not algorithms, as some people think at first blush. You provide real value to your audiences, and the search engine will recognize that and reward your website with a higher relative ranking.

The problem:

People make slippery targets. There’s no way to precision manufacture persuasive messaging like you can gaskets. There’s a reason Aristotle called persuasion a craft rather than a science.

Here are the three basic steps to craft a worthwhile SEO strategy for your manufacturing marketing strategy:

  • Keyword Research
  • Content Creation
  • Backlinking and Citations

Below you’ll find how these abstractions can be applied in manufacturing marketing.

Although you simply must know the technical foundations of SEO, always remember to think about people before you think about algorithms and analytics.

The sales cycle in manufacturing is long. Decision-making is deliberate and rational. Smart SEO will attract visitors and, along with your other marketing, help nurture leads into conversions.




 

Keyword Research for Manufacturing Marketing

Keyword research is the process of analyzing your audiences, your own company, and your search-result competitors. At the end, you should produce a document that lays out the keywords most worth investing your time and resources into.

Do it right, your website will rank highly for keywords relevant to your business’s services. That means higher quality leads.

Long-Tail Keywords

Develop a keyword strategy that targets what SEO experts call “long-tail” keywords. Long-tail keywords are longer keywords that are more specific queries, e.g. “motorcycle helmet” vs. “bluetooth motorcycle helmet.” “Bluetooth motorcycle helmet” receives considerably less search traffic, but someone searching for it has a better idea of what they want and so is likely further along the sales lifecycle.

 

 

Long-tail keywords receive less traffic, but they convert customers more effectively because the person using a specific keyword has a specific purpose in mind. These keywords are also easier to rank higher in search engine results because there’s typically less competition.

Let’s take an example relevant to manufacturing:

“CNC machining” vs “CNC machining services” vs “5 axis cnc machining”

Using a keyword analysis tool like those from ahrefs, we can see the search volume for each of these keyphrases:

 

Search volume is monthly, e.g. 6600 searches nationwide/month for “cnc machining.” “KD” is keyword difficulty, a metric created by ahrefs to estimate how difficult it is to rank highly for the keyphrase. “Clicks” refers to how many of the clicks on results users performed for the given keyphrase.

 

Think about the people behind these searches:

Anyone from a first-year engineering student to a fan of How It’s Made, could be searching for “CNC machining.”

Someone who’s searching more specifically for “cnc machining services” or “5 axis cnc machining” is more likely to actually be searching for the service. That makes these phrases efficient targets for search optimization.

If your company can provide 5 axis CNC machining services, then ensure that keyphrase is a part of your keyword strategy.

Research long-tail keywords that are relevant for your services, and use them on your site’s metadata, in your website content, and in any other content (like blogs) you publish.

 

Competitor Analysis

While you figure out which keywords will best represent and drive traffic to your services, you also need to analyze your competitors for which keywords they rank highly with.

Ranking is always competitive. There’s not an abstract quality you must reach to rank high in search results; you just have to do better than the people ahead of you.

You want to see what they’re doing to rank well. If the top-ranking pages are mostly pages with 1000+ word content with images, links, or other elements, then you know you’ll need in-depth content to have a shot at ranking up with them.

Looking at your competitors’ high-ranking pages will inform how your team approaches content creation to beat them. Which brings us to…

Content Creation

Once you have a solid keyword strategy, you need content to execute it. If you’re serious about SEO for your company, you need to make quality, keyword-optimized content the backbone.

Competitor research also helps determine the kind of content you create. You need to put out better stuff than the high-ranking competitors.

Say your company does precision machining parts here in Minnesota. Check out the top 10 results for “precision machining.”

 

Screenshot showing the top 4 results for the Google search "precision machining"
Results are based on our Rochester location, so you’ll see different results depending on your location.

 

Read through each of the competing pages to see what kind of content they have to help rank this high. What’s the word count? How do they organize their information? What keywords are being used in titles, headings, content?

 

Content That Helps You Rank

Remember to keep your audiences at the forefront of manufacturing marketing strategy at all times. The smart use of keywords will attract searchers, but the job of good SEO doesn’t stop there.

The content on your site must keep your visitors engaged and satisfy whatever purpose they had for visiting in the first place. Google’s eternal quest is to track user satisfaction with their search results, so if you optimize a page for “5 axis cnc machining,” it better have the substance to back it up!

When your visitor comes to your website through a search result and sticks around for a while, we call that “the long click.” Google loves the long click because that (more likely) means the user is satisfied with their search and result. That means Google wants to keep your site around, and higher, in their results for that search.

Consistent content creation also matters for optimization purposes. The more you add useful content to your site, the more you signal your website’s credibility and authority. It can also provide more entryways to your website.

For example, if your website has a well-written post about “thermoforming vs injection molding,” you can rank highly for that phrase and pull in that traffic to your site – generating more leads for customers who are earlier in the sales lifecycle and trying to decide which service to choose.

There’s much more to know about content creation for manufacturers, but we’ll cover that in a future post and stick strictly to the aspects of content that relate to optimization here. (This post will be updated when the new post on content drops.)

High-quality content creation is essential for manufacturers—it takes a lot of time and resources to switch suppliers, so you need to make persuasive arguments.

To sum it up for SEO’d content: satisfy user intent!

 

Backlinks and Citations

A Brief Explanation and Example

Backlinks and citations refer to other websites referring to your website and your company. It could be a link to a page of your website (a “backlink”) or name-dropping your company (a “citation”).

See our earlier post for an in-depth explanation of citations.

Other sites linking to your site lends your site more authority. Essentially, a backlink is another site stating its confidence in your site.

Backlinks are essential to building your site’s authority in Google’s eyes.

Here’s an example from one of our clients:

Northland Fastening was featured in a commercial by North American Banking Company. North American Banking Company also included a write-up on their website about their long relationship.

 

 

This link here lends the banking site’s authority to Northland Fastening System’s site.

 

How to Get Backlinks

When you pursue backlinks from other sites—and yes, you should invest time doing outreach if you’re serious about SEO—it’s best to get links from high-authority, credible sites who aren’t competing for the same keywords.

Some backlinks come from directory sites. For example, if you’re an industrial supplier, you’re going to want a listing and a link from www.thomasnet.com, a longtime name in the industrial marketplace and a website with good authority.

You also leverage high-quality content to get backlinks and references to your site. This veers into content marketing, which can’t be reasonably covered in this post.

Essentially, you want to create high-quality content about your business, your services, your industries, your people. Create informative content to become an authoritative, trusted. Publish content about your people and your teams to humanize your company.

After posting on your website, your best content must also be shared in appropriate platforms for different audiences. It’s easiest to share on social media—and you should do so—but it’s not guaranteed to drive traffic to your site.

You can do some outreach to relevant organizations and people in the industry. For example, if your company has expertise in plastics manufacturing, you could reach out to https://www.plasticstoday.com/, a “community for plastics professionals.”

Their website has a domain authority of 60, which would make them a great domain to get a link from.

You also want to do competitor research again. Use a link analysis tool (like from www.moz.com) to see where your keyword competitors get their best, most authoritative backlinks. Try outreach to get backlinks from the same and similar sources. If you have the right purposes and right content, classic sources of high-quality backlinks are news and education websites.

 

SEO for Manufacturers

Effective search engine optimization will boost your manufacturing marketing and increase quality leads. This post has focused on keyword research for content creation and distribution. However, there are other critical factors to SEO, like your site’s metadata and other more technical aspects.

It takes time and effort to build and maintain a working SEO campaign, and the information above is just the basic starting point.

To do it well, your team needs skills in research, analysis, writing, and (some) coding. SEO needs a craftsman’s approach. It’s unique for each business, and it takes a set of specialty skills; don’t count on a quick-and-dirty approach to get sustainable results.

If you’re looking for a team who’s got the skills, tools, and time to develop and maintain an SEO strategy, learn more about MLT Group or get in touch with us today. Contact us and we’ll get a site audit to you in 48 hours or less.




 

Content Development for 2020: Why You Need to Start Planning Now

More content is being pushed online than ever before. Competition grows tighter, digital consumers are savvier, and Google’s algorithms get smarter.

To actually get a decent ROI on your digital marketing these days, your business needs smart content development.

Here’s what smart content development for 2020 means:

Actions

  • Research-driven strategizing
  • Compelling writing
  • Competitive SEO
  • Promotion
  • Consistent management
Mindsets

  • Self-awareness
  • Creativity
  • Open-mindedness
  • Patience
  • Discipline

Many guides lay out actions to take, but without the right mindsets behind those actions, your plan is more likely to falter.

There’s no easy way to achieve results with lazy content anymore. Google’s express intent for years has been to reward unique, engaging, and—above all—useful content.

That takes time and resources to do right, and that’s why you should be thinking about 2020 now. We’re bringing you this series on content development to help you get started.

Our experience in search engine optimization, website development, and content strategies informs these guides to get your online marketing up to speed. We’re not holding back on the secret ingredient to make content marketing work for you. After all, sharing useful content is what makes for the best SEO!

But if you want help with getting started, figuring out where your content strategy stands, or managing your content marketing, send us a message.

 




 

Content Development: The Basics

“Content” is the information and stories that you distribute on your website and everywhere else (yes, even offline).

 

Don’t think about it like standard advertising, where you pitch your product or service. Content supports your lead and customer during every point of the sales life cycle. Content is NOT simply a fancy-looking, SEO’d sales pitch!

 

There is a variety of goals for content marketing, ranging from building brand awareness to keeping satisfied customers engaged.

 

What’s most important is this:

 

Keep your audiences at the forefront of your content. Write and design for your audience. Provide them with real value. Do not simply create content that extols your brand or product and expect it to be effective.

 

That said, we’ll kick off this series with the basics: the kinds of content you should be thinking about.

 

 

What Kinds of Content Should I Create?

From plain old writing to graphical, video, and audio content, different media have different strengths. A smart content strategy makes the most out of each medium and doesn’t waste time with the media irrelevant to the business and target audiences.

Cover of The Medium Is the Massage, a classic study of media from 1967. The title's typo is deliberate.
Cover of The Medium Is the Massage, a classic study of media from 1967. (The title’s typo is deliberate.)

Written Content

Historically speaking, writing sits on top of the list of most commonly created content on the internet. Engaging and optimized writing is still essential and will be for a long time. Every website has text, most have blog posts, and the right words spread quickly on social media. It is not enough to just type up some random thoughts and call it a day, however.

 

As the most popular blogs show online marketers, it takes a unique focus, regular creation, and clever marketing to attract the type of attention you need to profit.

 

No matter what type of written content you include on or off your website, each piece needs the following:

 

  • Purpose – It has to mean something to the people you want to read it.
  • Keywords – No stuffing, just well-researched and intelligent usage.
  • Value – Give the audience something that actually useful.
  • Easy structure – If people can’t access it on their phones or read it easily, you lose.
  • Brand story – Every piece of content must align with your business’s identity.
  • Integration – No blog post is an island. Use internal and external links to add value.

 

These six things do not matter to written content alone. If you do not add value, accessibility, and integration to all the content you create, you miss out on a lot of marketing power.

 

Graphical Content

While a standard stock photo added to a blog post does augment its value by catching more eyes, it hardly represents an effective content marketing strategy that will grow your business.

 

No one will share stock on their Instagram account. Taking your own photos of events, brand-specific things, and people associated with whatever you offer is far more likely to drive genuine engagement.

 

When it comes to graphic content for marketing, infographics top the list. They share data in an attractive, attention-grabbing, and understandable way. They are also easy to share, which helps your content go viral… or at least get more clicks than expected.

 

People are visual creatures, for the most part, so it makes sense to engage your site visitors and targeted consumers with attractive, colorful displays. It’s the same concept of a retail store putting up a big red “SALE” sign, except with a lot more meaning.

 

Auditory Content

When you go out to the shops or commute to work on public transportation, how many people do you see with earbuds in?

 

While most may be listening to music, podcast popularity has exploded over the past year. In the digital marketing world, 2019 could be called “Year of the Podcasts.”

A char chart showing the steady growth in podcast listening among the US population.
Credit: Edison Research and Triton Digital.

Apple’s most popular podcasts showcase great examples of how any brand can use this content type to expand their reach to new markets and cement their place in the minds of existing audience members.

 

How do you make a podcast that has the opportunity for success?

 

  • Get the right equipment. You don’t have to spend a lot, but a dollar store microphone won’t work.
  • Understand what your audience wants and needs. Ask them.
  • Organize what you’re going to say for 15-30 minutes. Make sure you know what you’re talking about.
  • Engage with interesting guests to spice things up.
  • Stay on schedule. People are more likely to come back if they can count on you.

 

Video Content

Combine graphics, audio, and written content, and you have one of the most powerful forms of digital content marketing in existence: video. High-quality video production can bring your business to life on the web, and video content will only become more and more prevalent as our digital economy moves into the 2020s.

 

According to a 2018 survey, 68% of surveyed consumers reported that they most prefer to learn about new products or services through short videos.

 

Videos explaining your products and services will lead to better audience understanding and retention, and including footage of your offerings and people will increase the persuasive power of your video.

 

Don’t only imagine that we mean you have to create a YouTube channel and try to go viral. Though YouTube is the second most popular website, it’s not the right platform for every business and audience.

 

Each of these types of video can add power to your digital marketing:

 

  • Educational Video: They can be used to educate your audience about your products and services, teach them a new way to use your product, or inform them about news applicable to your industry. Remember: give your audience real value! Educational and how-to videos can be excellent for this.
  • Industrial Video: Industrial videos offer plenty of opportunities for stunning visuals: facilities, products, services, staff, and equipment can be shown in action, adding excitement and powerfully illustrating the benefits and professionalism of your business.
  • Event videography: Whether you’re putting on a conference, company party, or having speaker address an audience, events offer visual opportunities that can make for a great video. The resulting video production can be retained for training, used for promotion, or even streamed on social platforms.

 

Search Engine Optimization and Content Development

More than 1 trillion searches are entered on Google every year. You need to stand out.

A bar graph showing the exponential increase in Google searches between 1999 and 2012
Credit: internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/

If you follow the basic guidelines for content creation above, you are already ahead of the game. Most web pages or social media posts online never get any attention at all.

 

Do not allow your content to fade into obscurity. If you want organic search engine traffic, you need to grab one of those top spots on Google. How?

 

In order to get high ranks, create content that gives people what they actually want.

 

High traffic, low competition keywords – In marketing, this is often called “the tilt” – the keyphrases that sit at the sweet spot of search volume and competition. Use them appropriately in your content, with special attention to headings, image tags, and anchor text. Use other semantic terms, too. These are related naturally to the topic at hand. If your keyword is “dog training,” you will naturally talk about puppies, leashes, and treats, for example.

 

Authority content – Remember that you have to give your audience real value. Share new or unique information. Make it entertaining. Help them solve a problem or abolish a pain point they experience.

 

Do not ignore trends and timely information – Time-sensitive content gets the search engines (and people) interested. Align some of your content with trending topics.

 

Link responsibly – Internal linking from one post to another on your own site tells Google your content all focuses on similar things that people find valuable. Links from your site to high-authority ones shows that you include great information. Links from high-authority sites to yours are gold.

 

These days, creating content that search engines love follows much of the same methods that produces what people love, too. That is, after all, what Google and other search engines strive for.

 

Adding Value to Your Audience’s Lives

People want information. When they type “how do I train my dog?” into a search engine, they expect to get actionable tips that work. They want a solution to their problems. If their dog chews up the rug every time they are left alone for 30 minutes, the owner desperately needs a way to stop it. If your blog post or video delivers the ultimate answer to stop dog rug-chewing, that piece of content will get shared around the internet and attract a lot of other rug-deficient dog owners.

 

People want entertainment. The massive amount of people on the internet every day want more than answers to their questions. Internet is overtaking TV as the main form of entertainment for much of the world. Give people something to make them laugh, cry, or at least get interested in for a while.

 

People want a connection. Today, more than ever before, consumers expect to form a type of emotional bond with the brands they support and buy from. Even if you do not directly sell services or products, your brand is your online identity. Those who read, watch, or listen to your content want to feel like an important part of something bigger than themselves.

 

 

Smart Content Development for 2020

Keep an eye on our blog to learn more about the different aspects of content development from strategizing to management. You’ll get the prime info and tons of outside resources to set up your own content marketing strategy.

 

If you want to kickstart this process with an outside team who has the expertise and time to strategize, implement, and manage your content marketing, let us know! MLT Group’s content development team emphasizes personal relationships, easy communication, and smart strategy.

 

Contact MLT Group for a free audit of your website, and learn how we can work together to boost your digital marketing.

 




 

Small Business Website Design: How to Know What You’re Buying

A topdown photo showing a laptop and board with the word "finance" on it.

There’s no shortage of web development and digital marketing experts who will throw jargon and acronyms at you until you lose sight of what you’re actually buying from them. Do your CTAs produce a decent CTR? Or maybe you need to enhance the onsite SEO within your CMS to boost that CR? But—wait—don’t even think about adjusting your PPC campaign until you’ve synthesized your CPC data with your current understanding of your typical CLV.

In the extremely competitive digital marketing field, some try to stand out by dishing out the alphabet soup and convincing you it’s delicious.

It’s possible to cut the crap, talk common sense with a small business owner, and build a website that attracts, converts, and satisfies customers. That’s what good small business website design is all about. Launch a new website with MLT Group, and you’ll understand what you’re buying and how it works.

Continue reading for a guide—including three essential questions—on how to know what you’re buying when you invest in custom web design. Consider it a resource for when you’re thinking of working with someone to develop a new small business website design. You will find no jargon, no acronyms, no bull below—we promise.

 




 

Does the developer understand you, your brand, and your audience?

Knowing is half the battle, as a great sage once said. Any small business website design worth its salt begins with a robust discovery process. That means you sit down with the design team who will ask and learn about your business, brand, and audiences. This conversation informs how the designers, programmers, and writers will approach your website.

A web development team that takes discovery seriously won’t just take this meeting and call it good. Discovery continues throughout the process as both the business owner and the development team think, work, and learn more about the project. Perhaps new research into likely site visitors will change the language used on the homepage. Maybe your business just won an award or earned some other recognition, and you’d like it emphasized on your website.

For this to work, open communication is vital! Both the development team and the business owner must be familiar with each other and maintain open communication. Good development teams will take the lead with progress updates, questions, and submissions for your review. They’ll prod you for feedback and explain their choices. Beware the jargon: if these conversations become bogged down in technical terms, you’ll begin to lose sight of where your money is going.

 

Will your site attract visitors?

Your money goes much further when your development team can build a site that attracts visitors who Google search for words related to your business. What’s the point of building build the most beautiful dream home if there are no roads to it?

How are these “roads” to your website built? Through detailed research into your audiences’ search patterns on the internet. Knowing how your audiences tend to use Google and other search engines should inform the design, building, and writing of your website. Once this research is completed, solid developers will send this research to you to ensure that it matches your business—and smart developers will ensure this research report is understandable. Without clear communication, misunderstandings early in the process will inevitably lead to delays in your new website’s time to market.

 

The header of the MLT Group's traffic and analytics report to clients, which reads "Digital Marketing Scorecard."
The header of the MLT Group “Digital Marketing Scorecard,” a quarterly report submitted to individual clients that clearly communicates their website’s performance, including traffic numbers, conversions, and recommendations. Clear communication makes a web development team more accountable for results.

 

Another related but distinct part of attracting visitors is the mobile design of your website. Your website simply must look good and be easy to use on mobile devices in 2019. Most people nowadays use their phones or tablets to search on the internet. Make sure you ask about your site’s mobile design. If you’re not getting a design specifically for mobile screens, run for the hills.

 

Does your website convert visitors to customers? 

Savvy designers will compose a beautiful website, and smart researchers, developers, and writers will build the roads to it. Once your website attracts visitors, it must convert them to satisfied customers.

By far, the best thing you can do to ensure your website converts visitors is to use a custom design and build. A custom design accomplishes several things for your small business.

  1. A custom design for your small business’s website will make your business appear more professional and credible.
  2. Custom work will also ensure your website suits your brand and audience perfectly.
  3. A custom website design makes your website easy to navigate for visitors. The navigation of your website—its menus, page arrangements, links, and so on—should be clear at a glance, and it should be tested to ensure ease of use.

 

Small Business Website Design: Coyote Creek Gun & Archery Desktop & Mobile Homepage
Above are the desktop and mobile designs for Coyote Creek Gun & Archery, located in Rochester, MN. Each carries the same branding, but each design also guides the visitor’s navigation in a way that suits the platform: for example, large images and space on the desktop, and large buttons and a “call” button on the mobile.

 

 

If you want to make sales and move money, you need something custom for the job. Don’t rely on a preset theme to carry your business online.

In addition to custom design, compelling writing on your website will engage your site’s visitors to think and act. The writing for your website should be informative, adding real substance about your products, services, and brand. The writing should also be persuasive. Returning to the discovery process, a good writer working on your website will know the right levers to pull to make your audiences convert from visitors to customers. Whether that means appealing to emotions, logic, or your company’s great reputation, a writer working a custom job for your site will ensure your website makes a great argument to visitors.

Small Business Website Design: Call to Action on 12 for Heath Homepage
Homepage for 12 for Health, a wellness program. The first text visible to a visitor is a strong call to action: “Go beyond traditional health programs.” A good web development team will write custom content for your site that includes strong language that speaks directly to your audience rather than simply saying how great your business is. (Though that’s important, too!)

 

Finally, a custom website will include the final steps your visitors need to become customers. That could be forms that they fill out (like “request a quote” or standard contact forms) and/or a cleanly designed eCommerce shop for them to purchase the product or service.

 

Know What You’re Buying

It’s easy to spend a lot of money on a small business website design and not really know what you’re getting. Digital marketing has plenty of jargon, acronyms, and snazzy terminology to hide behind. Digital marketing can be extremely powerful and grow your business, but you have to cut the crap when working with an outside development and marketing team. Remember and return to some of the fundamentals in this guide to ensure you really know what you’re buying when you’re spending money for small business website design.

 

If you want a small business website design partner that’s rabidly anti-jargon, practical, and results-oriented, learn more about MLT Group. Having built websites and implemented digital marketing plans for over two decades, we’ve seen trends come and go, acronyms rise and die, common sense terms turn to jargon. We keep up with the latest research and design trends, but we’re not going to pretend that showing off our expertise with jargon will help us or our clients succeed. We work for results.

 

Interested in a free audit and proposal? Contact us using the form below, and we’ll get back to you in two business days or less.