A/B Testing, Navigation, Surveys, and Other Aspects of Web Development in Minneapolis, MN

Building a website requires taking a LOT into account these days. Web designers need to go far beyond the aesthetics and general blueprints of a site to gain the favor of Google and other search engines, provide a quality user experience, and grow a brand audience. If you are working with an existing website rather than building from the ground up, that process can get even more difficult. Following Google’s recommendations for good search engine ranking and conversion rates can be helpful, but when you run into advice like “build a responsive website,” that guidance falls a little short. Of course, it’s a great idea to build a responsive website that fits perfectly into any screen size and resolution a user may be looking at, but that process is much easier said than done. Responsive web design requires some serious background knowledge and development skills, in addition to the ability to build in future updates easily. Most small brands and companies don’t have the time or team to build responsive web design into a new site or an existing one. Instead, the support of a third-party marketing firm and web developer can give your website the boost towards Google recommendations it needs. MLT Group provides comprehensive services for web development in Minneapolis, MN, in addition to marketing, SEO, social media, graphic design, and video production resources.

Web Development

Responsive web design essentially means a developed site can respond to user actions and the space they’re in, including the screen size, resolution, platform, and orientation. Some companies create separate websites just for desktop, mobile, and other screen displays. Others may create apps that work in tandem with their desktop website, or an intelligent website that can shift between different environments.

Web Development Using Web Design

However, building that kind of high-performance web design isn’t a possibility for everyone. It can be time-consuming, expensive, and difficult. A 2008 study identified screen and resolution averages among about 400 devices sold since 2005, and the range in those numbers is immense. Because more devices with different formats have come out since then, you can see how broad the idea of responsive web design can get.

While we’re able to provide services that support your responsive website design goals, there are also a lot of things you can do to improve the user experience (UX) and your site design in general without a complex overhaul of mobile, desktop, tablet, and other screen response. Some simple ways to start improving your website design come with a better understanding of user intent and the user experience with your site.

Web development that improves the user experience requires you to do some research that gathers numbers and other information for a solid start. Some ways you can get that important feedback are with A/B testing, surveys, and other tools.

A/B Testing

Also referred to as “split testing” or “multivariate testing,” A/B testing is a way to conduct randomized, controlled experiments with your website’s content. The goal of an A/B test is to determine the effectiveness of a website component. Tests of components take a control/original part and operate with a variation of that part. Users are directed to either the control or the variation, and you can begin to track the interaction results with both A and B. When you gather enough information with this experiment, it can either lead you to make positive changes on your site or to conduct another test to gain even more insight.

A/B testing can be done with virtually any component of your website, from media content to navigation menus. Users are not made aware they are part of this test, so the information you gather is unbiased and does not impact your audience negatively. A/B testing is a recognized marketing tool that is most frequently used to gauge user interactions with signup forms, registration systems, and other calls to action. This form of testing helps you see information that was initially subjective in an objective way, turning guesstimates into numbers.

There are various ways to perform A/B testing, usually through a third-party system designed specifically to help website owners gather information. Our team can also perform any A/B testing processes you need to gain marketing data for each part of your site and receive reliable returns on investment (ROIs).

Web Development for Surveys

The best way to find out what users want or to see what they think about something is to ask them. All kinds of brands use surveys on their websites as active information gatherers that can operate for as long as they are still effective. Surveys are most helpful for websites just starting out or turning towards more responsivity and better UX. You don’t have to bug your users with continually popping up surveys, but a simple survey that asks users what they are looking for and how their experience is going will give you a lot of insight into how your target audience operates. Some great questions to put into survey format on your site include:

  • What did you come to this site to do?
  • Are you finding what you’re looking for?
  • How much does product price matter to you?
  • Does blank feature matter to you?
  • Do you trust this product/information?

There are hundreds of other questions you can ask your users, but it’s better to ask simple questions that they can answer quickly. With simple questions that can provide large chunks of information, you will likely get more user interaction with your survey and therefore a greater depth of feedback. Surveys can give you feedback on user intent, user experience with your site, patterns in behavior, and the overall responsiveness of your website.

Web Development of Navigation

The most important part of a website’s responsive design comes with user navigation. You can build in glamourous, bold, and dynamic features, but when navigation gets lost in your web design, quality and effectiveness are immediately decreased. One of the most popular trends on websites today is the use of hamburger menus. Hamburger menus are those little icons that are often in the left or right-hand corner of a site, most often with three bars inside a box. It gets its name because it resembles a hamburger (bun, meat, bun). While these menus are becoming more recognizable because they’re so often used these days, keep in mind that not everyone will know what they are. The standard three-bar icon is a well-known menu indicator, but many stylized versions are confusing. In fact, because some hamburger menus have such low visibility (some are incredibly tiny) and because of their ambiguity, they can lead to a loss of navigation for some users.

Functionality Vs Flash

In addition to hamburger menus, more and more companies are trading functionality for flash on their websites. While you can definitely have flash and a well-developed brand aesthetic as a key part of your website, you should never sacrifice navigation factors for cosmetics. If users can’t negotiate their way through your site, your conversion rates will go down, traffic is more likely to click away, and you will lose authority as a brand. Another reason you should solidify your site’s navigability before attempting to add in lots of dynamic visual content is because it’s a component of responsive web design. When your site is shrunken, expanded, stretched, and otherwise altered as it’s displayed on different screens, navigation should still be there for users. Adding in flash can complicate that responsiveness, and it’s more likely to jumble the rest of your site content when it switches between screens.


There are many other ways you can improve your site without having to do a full retrofit to make it more responsive, but these are some effective first tools to try. If you’re working to build a website, grow your brand, or make changes to your current website for greater responsiveness to user behavior, we can help. Contact MLT Group today at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online for more information about web development in Minneapolis, MN.


How the Google Algorithm Has Changed Over Time and What It Means for SEO Web Development in Minneapolis, MN

Since its beginnings in 1998, Google has dramatically changed the way users can search for information, ask questions, and find resources. The internet itself has also transformed significantly as technology, website capabilities, and user goals change. If you have a website, you probably use some kind of search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to improve your Google ranking over time. No matter how extensive your use of SEO systems is, you should be aware of any changes that Google makes to its search engine algorithm so you can work accordingly. There are frequent changes to the function of the Google algorithm and the ways websites can optimize their rankings. Google makes small adjustments to its algorithm multiple times every year, but the big changes that completely change the SEO landscape happen less often. If you’re hoping to improve your website’s Google ranking with better SEO but aren’t sure where to start, we can help. MLT Group LLC provides complete digital marketing services, including SEO web development in Minneapolis, Rochester, and everywhere else.

Web Development

According to market research, Google dominates with a 90% share of the global search traffic, while Bing and Yahoo only hold about 3% and 1.3%, respectively. This means that most of the rules of search engines are established through Google’s algorithm. When that search algorithm changes, the SEO rules change with it. There are many reasons why Google has made adjustments to its algorithm over the years, but each change was made with the main goal of improving user experience and better answering user inquiries.

Google in Web Development

The Google algorithm still performs its three basic tasks of crawling, indexing, and ranking. Google has, however, made adjustments over the years to how your website’s data is prioritized in the crawling process, how websites are indexed, and what sites are ranked highly on a search engine results page (SERP). If you’re using SEO tools, it’s important to keep an eye on Google news and updates to see if major changes might warrant significant alterations to your marketing campaign. SEO web development has been mostly the same since the last big change in 2015, but Google still makes changes to its algorithm upwards of ten times a year. You can keep an eye on these changes when Google announces updates, but most of the time you won’t have to adjust your overall SEO strategy to accommodate a completely new search system.

SEO Strategies in Web Development

Despite Google’s changes being mostly minor, the time may come soon when users’ social patterns, technology, and content purposes alter the search engine and SEO landscape. Even without large changes, it’s important to be aware of effective and current SEO strategies. Some marketing staff are still working with out-of-date SEO tactics like keyword stuffing and link manipulation.

Blog Posts

You can learn more about good, current SEO basics and the SEO tools you should avoid in this blog post, but to get an idea of how we got the SEO developments we have today, let’s focus on changes to the Google algorithm throughout recent history.

Panda: February 23, 2011

The Panda update began in 2011, but with over 28 updates over the years, it’s still highly relevant for SEO. In fact, the full Panda update was rebuilt into the base of the Google algorithm by 2015. Panda was developed to improve content quality, better answer user inquiries, and get rid of content farms. Around 2010, there were growing issues with a high output of thin, poor, and duplicate content. This content was generally farmed by websites that used it as cover ups or placeholders for advertisements and spam. Panda also targeted user-generated content of low quality or content without a purpose. Google’s mission with Panda was to eliminate content that was unnecessary and punish sites using black hat SEO practices to manipulate the system. The first impacts of Panda affected about 12% of search results (in English).

Panda has several triggers in its algorithm that will catch websites using unwanted SEO practices. Sites that use those methods will be ranked very low, if at all, on SERPs. Some triggers include low quality content, content farming, high ratios of ads to content, low quality user-generated content such as poorly written or inaccurate blogs, content made by unverified sources, mismatched content, sites that users have blocked, and duplicate content. Generally speaking, your site won’t be penalized by the Panda algorithm update if you are making quality content and using approved SEO practices.

Penguin: April 24, 2012

Soon after the effectiveness of Panda was seen, Google released the Penguin update in 2012. Unlike Panda, which penalizes sites with low-quality content, Penguin was meant to reward sites for making good content and hosting a high-quality website. It was also meant to reduce search results that included sites using link manipulation and keyword stuffing. The first incorporation of Penguin into the Google algorithm impacted 3.1% (in English) of search results. There have been 10 updates to Penguin over the years, and in 2017, it was brought into the core algorithm. The first four years of Penguin showed a severe impact on penalized sites. It was so difficult for sites hit by Penguin to recover that the code was almost completely reversed in 2016. Now, Penguin mostly works to devalue links that are low quality and link networks.

The main triggers of Penguin are link manipulation and keyword stuffing. Link manipulation means a site has built or purchased backlinks from low-quality websites or unrelated sources. This link scheming makes a website look more popular and relevant than it actually is. Keyword stuffing used to be an effective white hat SEO practice, but Penguin changed that. Websites that stuff excessive amounts of repeated keywords into their content are confusing and awkward to read. Google now considers keyword-stuffed sites a mark of poor quality.

 Pigeon: August 20, 2013

 In 2013, Google released several updates all at once, including Pigeon and Hummingbird. Pigeon dramatically changed the local search algorithm, connecting it more directly to the core search engine algorithm. This affected the way local and organic results end up ranked on a SERP. Not only did it make it more important for local businesses to have an organic SEO presence online, it also adjusted the way distances and locations are calculated for users. Search radiuses were narrowed to the location of the user rather than the larger area that a search query could suggest, which made it harder for local businesses to compete in the smaller groups of SERP rankings.

Pigeon also changed the “pack” display of local search results for the user. The pre-Pigeon method of showing local results was in a pack of 7 businesses listed by name and link. With Pigeon, that was changed to a pack of 3 businesses listed by their location on Google Maps and below in a list of links. Pigeon was one of the most significant changes Google has made to the local search algorithm.

 Hummingbird: August 20, 2013

 Along with Pigeon, Hummingbird was also a new update to the Google algorithm in 2013. However, Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon were all add-ons to the core algorithm, but Hummingbird was a complete remodeling of that core. After Hummingbird, there were many conditions of the old algorithm that stuck around, but the entire system was adjusted to pave the way for a more intelligent infrastructure that would adapt continually to the future.

Hummingbird established a growing understanding of user intent and the ability to provide results that would better meet their needs. Hummingbird’s algorithm uses synonyms and other semantics to understand human thought processes, marking the beginning of Natural Language Processing (NLP). In search engine terms, NLP means the Google algorithm can process a full search written in natural language, like “What is the healthiest kind of sushi?” rather than just simple search terms like “healthy sushi.” It’s also a beacon of the kinds of Machine Learning (ML) that Google is developing to make its search systems smarter and better at their jobs.

Rankbrain: October 26, 2015

In 2015, some of Google’s earliest ML algorithm components were introduced with Rankbrain. Although Rankbrain has been a component of Google’s core algorithm for several years, it’s a highly complex system that is still difficult to understand. Essentially, Rankbrain uses machine learning that self-teaches through data inputs to improve the selection of results on SERPs. Like other algorithm updates, Rankbrain is meant to make the user experience better and find the most relevant results to answer a search. Unlike the others, though, Rankbrain is able to adapt to and understand user intent through its machine learning capabilities.

Sites are generally not negatively affected by either the Hummingbird or the Rankbrain updates to the Google algorithm. Both are meant to simply make the core algorithm smarter and more self-sufficient for the long term.

These are just a few of the many updates and changes that have been made to the Google search algorithm over time. If you’re working with SEO tools but find you need assistance adapting to algorithm changes, MLT Group can help. To learn more about our work with web development in Minneapolis, MN, contact us at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

Wow! That’s Three Wins in a Row for Mike Pruett!

The winner of the 2023 Rochesterfest Button Contest has been announced! The victorious design for this year’s theme, “Be a Kid Again”, is a creative effort by Mike Pruett, MLT Group CEO! Mike’s button design was one of the over 100 entries received. The designs were voted on by the public via the Rochesterfest website and Facebook. For his winning design, Mike will be presented with a check for $300 at the Rochesterfest Button Kickoff event scheduled for May 24th. At that time, buttons for the 2023 Rochesterfest will be available to the public for $5 each.

Founder and CEO of MLT Group LLC

Mike is the founder and CEO of MLT Group – Creative Solutions in Rochester, MN. He oversees the team and general business operations, and works closely with designers and clients to develop engaging marketing and advertising solutions. MLT Group provides services across all media for a diverse range of clients and markets throughout the country. Mike’s talents also include the creation and editing of video and audio content. His services are in demand across the country, and many of his repeat clients feel he is truly a master at his profession.

Community Service

Mike is a firm believer in community service and continues to support and actively participate in a wide variety of community organizations in and around Rochester. Through the years, he has contributed his professional services and creative talents to the City of Rochester, Olmsted County, and many civic and private non-profit organizations.

Rochesterfest Button Winner

For those of you thinking “Hey, hasn’t Mike won this contest before?”, you’re absolutely right! This win gives Mike the distinguished honor of winning the Rochesterfest Button Contest three years in a row! Along with his winning designs in 2021 and 2022, Mike also won in 2008! That’s four winning designs — way to go, Mike! He has also helped the Rochesterfest organization in other ways, such as with the video he created for the 2023 Rochesterfest.

With his generous support, wealth of creative ability, and unparalleled commitment to community service, Mike lives and works his desire to provide the best services available and support every opportunity that comes his way with 110% of his energy and expertise.

Again, congratulations to Mike Pruett, winner of the 2023 Rochesterfest Button Design contest!


Why Generating Localized Content is Important for SEO/Marketing in St. Paul, MN

There are many different ways to expand your brand audience and increase user traffic through search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is all about achieving rankings on search engines to attract more of your target audiences to your site and offerings. But SEO can also be used to grow a demographic that is interested in your brand’s products, services, mission, or practices, but not currently finding your site online. For example, there are many brands that hold a large audience in the 18-to-25-year-old demographic that wish to grow their customer relationships with older users, or vice versa. By retargeting SEO strategies and improving the complexity and depth of your brand content, you can attract a broader audience and increase brand awareness to demographics previously untapped. SEO is a key component to success as an online brand. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use algorithms meant to better meet user inquiries and boost search satisfaction, but they can also be a gift or a curse for your website depending on your use of SEO tactics. With the help of MLT Group, you can increase your online presence through our expert SEO/marketing in St. Paul, MN.

Comprehensive Marketing Services

At MLT Group, our team provides comprehensive marketing services, including digital support, social media marketing, graphic design, web design, SEO, video production, and more. We can help your brand move to the top of Google search engine results pages (SERPs), bring greater and more meaningful attention to your site, increase conversion rates, improve your customer relationship management (CRM), and get an effective return on your investments (ROI).

SEO/Marketing Practices

There are several ways that SEO/Marketing practices work in your favor when done well and in good faith. Search engine algorithms use crawling bots to scan information on any given website. This includes the examination of everything from text and media content to the analysis of loading speeds and metadata. Those bots then report the information they’ve found to the search engine indexing system. Your website will be indexed until a user inquiry is made in the search engine. When a relevant search is performed, your site is ranked on the SERP based on how well the content the bots found can answer the user’s query.

Site Rankings

Using SEO to improve your site ranking requires understanding the best practices for keywords, “white hat” tactics, quick page loads, and global, national, or local geotargeting. Not all practices are right for every site. One size does not fit all when it comes to search engine optimization. Depending on your brand model, some methods may be more effective than others. A brand offering worldwide product distribution services, for example, may want to put greater emphasis on their global reach rather than localized SEO content. On the other hand, many small businesses can use localized SEO to great advantage.

What is Local SEO/Marketing?

Unlike global or even national SEO/marketing, local SEO puts the importance of a single area into a brand model. The reach of local SEO in the U.S. can go as wide as a region, such as the Midwest or New England area, or as narrow as a city or town. One of the most effective ways to integrate local SEO into your website is to use specific keywords paired with your target location, such as “free-range eggs in Memphis, TN” or “family-owned Tennessee farm.” Keywords and locations mentioned in text content are also supported if you provide a local business mailing address, phone number, and brick-and-mortar property.

A first stop for local SEO is claiming and optimizing your Google My Business page. Making sure the information there is accurate and complete is an important step.

Local SEO/Marketing Results

Another proactive way to increase local SEO results is to pair your website with popular social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Social media gives you the invaluable option to directly link your business to permanent local hashtags and hashtags that trend temporarily in the region. Hashtags like “#memphisfarmers” or “#memphisfarmersmarket” are useful for grouping your brand with noncompeting similar small businesses or live events where customers can find you. These are also two examples of localized SEO on the microscopic level (“#memphisfarmers” only has about 70 tagged Instagram posts), and on a slightly larger, but still small, level (“#memphisfarmersmarket” has almost 3,500 tagged Instagram posts). Another benefit of pairing social media with your website is the way those platforms give you direct communication with your customers, users, and additional potential audience members. You can use social media to livestream videos that users can interact with through comments or reactions; create polls; make giveaway contests to boost brand excitement; and implement many other kinds of intimate communication pathways with your demographics.

Local SEO builds your brand as a part of a community. Whether your target audience is a small town, a large city, or even a multi-state region, there are many local SEO tools you can use to support your growth as a trusted provider of whatever kinds of goods, services, or other support you contribute to your area.

When Should You Use Local SEO/Marketing?

Even for certain small businesses, local SEO might be something to lean away from if the goal is expansion to a national level. However, for brands who want to be considered a part of their local community, provide their neighbors with the services they offer, and become a trusted business in their immediate area, local SEO is very important. Some basic rules for when to use local SEO include:

Physical Location of Business

  • Your business is physically located near a customer base that would benefit from your goods and services. Your business would benefit from appearing in localized SERP inquiries. You want to attract users/customers in a specific geographic area, such as a neighborhood, city, county, state, or region.
  • Part of your business model includes face-to-face interactions with customers. You own a physical retail space. You attend local events as a vendor or market through local events. Your competitors lean on local business operations and use local SEO. Your industry operates on a localized scale. Many of your customers are currently local to your region. (You can use website and sales analytics to determine where your customers are purchasing, searching, or interacting from around the world.)
  • Your brand has reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other sites from local customers or targeted to local readers. You pay business and property taxes to your city.

There are many other reasons why you could be using local SEO/marketing to your benefit in addition to these few basic parameters. Generally speaking, if your customer base starts local, you can expand that audience by leaning into the effectiveness of localized services. However, this does not mean you can’t use national or global SEO to start to expand your definition of “local” as your business grows.

Not only does local SEO/marketing work in your favor if your brand meets some of these rules, but Google and other search engines often reward businesses using localized models. When SERPs can include richer answers to the user’s query, such as map locations, store hours, business profiles, directions, reviews, and more, Google will likely favor those rankings more than results that are marketed worldwide.

Global Market

The global market these days is also shifting in several ways that support local SEO and geotargeting. Not only are consumers more interested in supporting sustainable, ethical, and trustworthy brands, there is also a growing support for shopping locally, saving money on shipping costs, promoting independent and family-owned brands, and reducing the carbon footprint that large corporations are becoming more known for.

If you are looking to increase your use of local SEO/marketing in St. Paul, MN, we can help. Contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com for more information about our marketing services today.

Why a Custom Website is Better for Your Brand’s Web Development in Minneapolis, MN


There are many ways to build a website today. It can be as simple as using a free website template provider or as elaborate as writing your own HTML, Java, Python, or other type of web development code. Depending on your budget and level of investment in a website project, some of these methods may be better than others. For the majority of public figures, small brands, and other websites that only require the basics, website builders like Squarespace and Wix can work just fine. While these templated website builders can offer adequate solutions for those looking to stick with a pared-down, attractive site, they are often too limited for businesses or brands looking for more dynamic options. If you need anything that website builders don’t offer, or expect your site to grow into something more unique in the future, the best option is to take advantage of custom website building services. At MLT Group LLC, we help companies and brands create innovative, high-functioning websites with our services for SEO marketing, design, and complete web development in Minneapolis, MN.

Comprehensive Marketing

MLT Group offers comprehensive marketing and design services, including SEO strategies, digital marketing campaigns, web and graphic design, social media marketing, and video production. Our mission as a third-party marketing firm is to help clients achieve their content goals and sustain long-term success as an online presence.

Website Builders

The number of website builders available to a wide range of individuals, brands, businesses, and content creators has grown exponentially in the last five years. Template-based website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify make building a quality website attainable for those without coding skills or a budget they can use to pay a third-party website builder to create from the ground up. These sites have many benefits, and they’ve been integral to thousands of small businesses establishing their online brand.

As of 2021, Squarespace has about 3.8 million subscribers with a starting price of $16 a month for personal sites, and Wix has about 200 million subscribers and offers a free template program in addition to their more expensive upgrades. Website builders like these are great systems for building nice-looking, simple sites that can incorporate basic e-commerce with added costs.

If these capable systems are available for such low pricing, you may be wondering why any business would utilize custom websites that are built either in-house by their own marketing team or built by a third-party builder. Despite their many benefits for quick, low-cost, and generally well-designed sites, these template systems have significant drawbacks for brands that want to give themselves room to grow into prosperity.

The Benefits of a Custom Build

When it comes to quality web development for your business, you shouldn’t have to waste time or money on a unique website that fits your brand’s aesthetics and offers peak performance. Even if you own a small business, it’s worth it to invest in a custom website that you can take with you as you grow your brand, instead of using that energy and expense now to create a template-based website that will limit you down the road.

web development

Templates Limit Design and Future Growth

Custom websites are not limited by the template system that website builders like Squarespace and Wix use. The templates those builders use are generic outlines that, while they offer some customization options, often end up resembling many other sites out there. If you rely on website builder templates, you could even have a site that’s similar to one or more of your direct competitors. Website builder templates also limit the functionality of your site in addition to the aesthetic design. Most of these templates don’t allow growth for added marketing tools like multi-faceted blog integration, distinctive e-commerce systems, and custom calendars.

Custom Sites Have Better Integration

Custom websites can also integrate with almost any service that has an API (Application Programming Interface). Some website builders do allow for basic integrations of services, but these are very restricted capabilities. Again, the templates will limit your ability to integrate new features and tools into your site. If you are using one of the many website builder templates and you attempt some integration, it could jumble your entire site. Custom sites are built to work with all exterior integration via APIs, so you can continue to make your online presence more dynamic with a richer site.

 Custom Sites Have Better Mobile-first Designs

Another benefit of a custom site is the ability to completely control the way your website looks on a desktop or a mobile device. Every website should have full functionality on both device screens, since most people access sites on both platforms today. The largest issue that website builders have with mobile device translation is handling content blocks. As text, images, and other content sections are relayed into a mobile setting, they tend to stack and jumble in ways that are difficult for users to process. A custom site can go beyond the simple translation of a desktop website display into a mobile device. Instead of mirroring into a mobile format, custom sites can contain two distinct programs for the larger landscape screen of a desktop and the smaller portrait screen of a smart phone or other mobile device.

Website Builders Limit Multi-Development and Staging

Website builders like Wix and Squarespace do allow you to build your site, make changes, and see the final product before it’s published for the world to see, but those development stages and detail work-outs are much more limited than when you build a custom site. Custom-built websites can spend much more time in multi-tiered development environments while each aspect of the site design is staged, tested for functionality, and meshed with each other. Since custom sites often allow for greater complexity and higher system capabilities, this development and staging time is a critical component of the quality control process.

Custom Sites For Web Development Can Grow with You

The simplicity, ease, and cost of a website builder might look like a good option for where your business is now, but what about how your brand will grow in the next five or ten years? Your website’s functions should be able to grow with your company and continue to allow space for new marketing tools, e-commerce abilities, design features, and more. We can’t always predict the new technology that will be available in the future of web design, but custom sites built today are created on a foundation that’s set up for long-term growth and the integration of new internet rules, web design systems, and brand changes. For most small businesses, a website builder template can help you create an online presence now, but custom sites will give you that space for now and for the future.

Benefits of Custom Websites

There are many other reasons why a custom website is more beneficial to businesses of all shapes and sizes than website builder systems like Wix and Squarespace (including the fact that the accrued costs of a website builder subscription often equal the initial costs of a custom website set up), but these are just a few of the most significant points of interest.

If you’re considering working with a third-party marketing firm to build a custom website after reading this, we can help. MLT Group offers fully customizable web development in Minneapolis, MN, including building a custom website. Contact us at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today to learn more.

Importance of Project Planning for Video Production in St. Paul, MN

There are many factors that go into a successful marketing campaign, but one of the most engaging and effective tools you can use is video content. Video media immediately captures the attention of your audience, conveying a lot of information quickly and in an appealing way. Additionally, video media has proven to have better retention and long-term recall than any other type of content. This means videos are some of the best ways to instill your brand and mission into the minds of users. While video content is so powerful, it’s also one of the most time-consuming and expensive types of marketing media to make. It often requires special equipment, software, and skill sets that smaller companies might not have in their budget yet. Because of the unique requirements of quality video production, many brands can benefit from outsourcing that content creation to a third-party marketing firm. At MLT Group LLC, we work with many different types of brands to generate video marketing media that improves their audience engagement and grows their online presence. We offer comprehensive video production in St. Paul, MN, including video design, scripting, on-location and studio filming, audio recording, talent casting, graphics, animation, music, and more.


MLT Group’s video production team has access to all the technology needed for any kind of project, including cameras, filming and editing software, lighting, 4K aerial drone systems, and more.


While the technology and equipment available to professional videographers and even for home movies has increased exponentially over the years, there are also several aspects of publishing online media that complicate any video project. Not only do you now have to cultivate an SEO and social media system in order to trend on the right algorithms and appear in user searches, you also have to create video formats that fit multiple display sizes, as users could be looking at your site on anything from a smartphone to a television screen.

Video Marketing

Another difficulty that video marketing poses is the frequency of content publishing that’s often required to successfully stay relevant. About 14% of marketers using multifaceted campaigns publish videos daily, and around 36% of marketers publish videos weekly. Meeting all those dem日本藤素
ands for SEO, formatting, and frequency on top of the challenge of creating quality content is impossible for most brands. If you believe you’re up to the task and want to start with a small video project for your brand’s marketing, one of the most important parts of the production process is the planning.

From full-feature films to ten-second commercials, preproduction steps will always be necessary. Film preproduction varies slightly depending on the type of video being made, but there is almost always room for the following stages.

Most Important Preproduction Stages

Creative outline:

Before you can start any other parts of your video making process, you need to know exactly what it will be about. Chances are, if you’re working with a vague idea or lofty concept, that won’t be enough to generate good content. Take the time to write a full creative outline of your movie that will serve as the foundation for all other decisions made down the production road. This outline should set the tone, aesthetics, and purpose of your finished video. It will also help you decide your target audience, which may be different from your usual marketing outreach goals. Determine how this video will fit into your marketing flow and what your projected return on investment (ROI) will be. These broad strokes can be worked into your budget later with more details.


A video can take a long time to produce, and the work can quickly get off schedule without a dedicated timeline. If you’re shooting a live video, find out how long it will take to set up, shoot, and take down each shot. You’ll also have to work in extra time for talent to go through hair and makeup, general motions, and more. When it comes to live filming, keep in mind that everything will take longer in real time than on paper, even with a quick crew. For animations and other non-live videos, the time is spent on animating, drawing, and the overall creation of artwork. Rushed animations can quickly lose their visual appeal and even their meaning. Give your team enough time to perfect the editing of their work and put together a cohesive story. Once you have established your projected timeline, you can begin to work out your budget.


Videos can get expensive. Not only will you potentially spend money on equipment, travel to new locations, sets, talent, and software, but you could also have a few unexpected expenses along the way. Animations can also be quite pricey. You should be paying artists enough for their work and time, and you may even have to cover costs for animation programs and software. While it’s certainly possible to make a video that fits your budget, it’s still important to consider what costs will come from where and prepare to spend the money you can allocate to your video marketing budget effectively.


A script or screenplay is also an important part of any video. Scripts will convey the information you want to use to introduce your brand, a product or service, or other marketing goals. Live action videos, voice overs, voice-acted animations, and even off-the-cuff casual videos all require scripts to succeed. Those scripts can be written to an exact screenplay or include some talking points for something less formal. Scripts are also necessary for videos that don’t have dialogue, lines, or any spoken words. The underlying purpose of a script is to have a written format of the chronological order of your video. This order includes everything from lighting changes to moving objects and more. It’s okay if your script doesn’t follow the “style” or presentation of a movie script or a professional screenplay. It just has to be easy to follow, clear, and comprehensive for every step that will occur in the video.


Whether your video is going to be shot in multiple locations or just take place in your building, you need to dedicate time to location scouting and planning. The purpose of location planning is to determine the angles of the shots, the best lighting for the scene, the props and set components you will need, and the equipment you’ll need to set up to film. Finding out your locations ahead of time will also help you plan how long it will take to move from spot to spot, which will be important for editing your timeline. Even if you only have one location for your video, take time to plan the shot list and make any alterations to the background, props, and lighting you need to make it perfect.

Storyboard/Shot List:

Setting up a storyboard or shot list is a critical step to making your filming process run smoothly. Storyboard cards or a written list of shots are one of the most important preproduction tools you can use to stick to your timeline and budget. Filming interesting shots that convey your story actually takes more planning than most novice videographers realize. A bullet point list of chronological shots paired with the completed script or a full picture storyboard with rough images from shot to shot can help eliminate unnecessary reshoots, reduce post-production editing time, and make your video more professional overall.


Who works on your video is just as important as the video content and the finished work. Your crew may only include a few staff members, or it can grow to include actors, lighting technicians, sound technicians, directors, camera operators, animators, designers, and more. No matter how big or small your crew is, you need to make sure that each member of the team knows their role, responsibilities, and how the video making process will unfold. Without a reliable crew, it can be impossible to produce a quality video of any kind.

Video Production

Making any type of video, live action or animation, short or long, is a fully involved process that likely won’t succeed without the right preproduction steps. If you are in need of a high-quality, well-produced video for your company but don’t have the time, skills, or desire to go through the difficult process of making it yourself, the help of a marketing company can be priceless.

To learn more about our services and experience with video production in St. Paul, MN, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

Implementing Contradictory, but Effective Strategies for SEO/Marketing in Minneapolis, MN

Digital marketing is a complicated landscape with techniques and tools that vary in effectiveness depending on the format of brands, products, audiences, and more. There are marketing 101 strategies that generally work with some success across the board. However, when you’re cultivating a marketing system unique to your brand, it’s important to focus on which exact tools may be better than others, rather than relying solely on industry standards. Because marketing strategies can be so complex and difficult to devote time to figuring out and implementing, many organizations and companies of all sizes take advantage of the services a third-party digital marketing firm provides. MLT Group offers complete services for SEO/marketing in Minneapolis, MN, including web design, SEO systems, social media tools, graphic design, and video production with 4K technology.

Marketing Online

Marketing online and offline is all about driving the customer to action. That action can mean many things, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, following your brand on social media, reviewing a product or service, or even commenting on a post. The long-term goal of marketing is to generate profitable customer action, but there are many other purposes marketing tools serve along the way to that goal.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) use online systems to get the right kind of attention from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as their potential customer base. This means you’re balancing communication lines between both the search engine platform and the user. There are many ways to improve your website’s placement on a search engine results page (SERP) that follow recommended marketing practices (we cover many SEO tools in this blog), but there are always ways to communicate with your audience, enrich that brand-to-user relationship, and grow a community.

SEO/Marketing Strategies

Some SEO/marketing strategies aimed at audience growth and outreach make sense. Those strategies are marketing basics targeted at the largest audience possible in the fastest and most impactful amount of time. Yet, for many online brands, some counterintuitive strategies may be more effective with greater diversity for positive results than many standardized digital marketing tools. Generic marketing advice only goes so far in generating customer action. Expanding beyond beginner marketing techniques requires some understanding of your brand and audience as unique entities.

Research Needed

While some research may be needed to get a foothold in determining what multifaceted, functional marketing techniques should be tailored specifically to your brand, there are a few contradictory marketing methods that can initiate continual audience growth and profitable customer action for many kinds of companies with an online presence.

Enrich your brand community with one-on-one interactions.

No matter how big or small your brand community is, one-on-one interactions with members are always valuable. While common marketing advice will suggest you rely more on measurable interactions, such as time-efficient, widespread messages through mailing lists or social media posts, there’s still a use for the more intangible interactions. One-on-one interactions with customers like personalized greetings, direct conversations, community tags, gifts, and more all contribute to stronger relationships with your brand. These kinds of interactions can’t be measured for ROI in the way that other marketing moves can, but they almost always generate more trust in your brand, a diverse community, and a humanizing of your company.

Personal Connections

The easiest way to start making more personal connections with your audience is to get to know the members of your community, including their interests, skills, backgrounds, locations, and other aspects. If you can collect this information without invading customer privacy, you’ll also be able to learn more about your brand’s demographic.

Provide real information to your audience.

Another piece of generic marketing advice is to keep information vague and bait the value of products and services to encourage users to make purchases. The problem with this strategy is that today’s users have unprecedented access to information. Customers are able to do more research on a product or service to inform their purchase than ever before. This level of information access has changed the way brands should provide their own information freely to users. Instead of teasing the importance of their information, brands that provide real information and tools to their users are able to build trust with their audience.

Trust is Important

The trust that’s initiated by offering real information and valuable tools to users in your brand community will also lead to return customers, an increase in word-of-mouth referrals, and greater brand authority in your industry. The simplest way to start offering real information to your audience is to publish well-written blog posts that cover in-depth, relevant topics about your brand, products, services, staff, systems, and industry. You can also provide some of the tools your own team uses, such as templates, calculators, guides, and more.

 Focus on quality of presence over quantity of presence.

Narrowing the online space occupied and focusing on quality over quantity is especially important for smaller brands without a dedicated marketing team, but it can also be a useful piece of advice for larger companies with established marketing systems. The ideal marketing system will include high-quality content published regularly on multiple platforms, including your website, blog feed, newsletters, and multiple social media sites. Producing this amount of well-made content is almost impossible for many brands. It’s time-consuming, requires a specific skill set and level of creativity, and can exhaust your marketing resources.

Quality Content

Instead of attempting to fill the many content holes that generic marketing advice digs, start with a small amount of quality content that you have the capacity and enjoyment for creating. Master a single space for content, and make sure you’re able to reliably generate quality products in that space before expanding to a new outlet. Start with a platform that fits your brand type the best. For example, a retail brand might benefit more from building a quality Instagram that showcases their products, but a publishing company would do better to focus on a well-curated blog page. Focusing on quality over quantity and starting small doesn’t mean you’ll never have the benefits that many platforms provide, but working up to those multi-faceted marketing systems will improve your tool kit and retain loyal customers on each platform as you master them.

 Don’t give up on specialty marketing ROIs.

Small or niche marketing channels may seem insignificant when compared to large-scale SEO/marketing and a generalized target audience, but those specialty spaces may have greater ROIs than you’d expect. Specialty keywords on your site help Google and other search engines find your brand for more pinpointed user inquiries and also provide space for more of a “fandom” kind of audience. Users who respond to specialty marketing and niche channels are more likely to be dedicated customers and spread word-of-mouth support.

Using niche or specialty tools when you can will also give your brand a unique, hidden treasure kind of image, especially compared to the many other websites in an oversaturated internet market.

 Create a community with other brands.

Standard marketing guidelines encourage a view of competitors in your industry as the enemy. While it’s true you compete for sales, space, and customer interactions in general, there’s something to be said for building a community with like-minded brands. If you can support brands that share your ethics, whose work you admire, or those you think could fill a need for your customers that your brand doesn’t quite meet, you’ll foster greater credibility, trustworthiness, and likeability with your customers. It’s also possible that you’ll gain the goodwill and reciprocal support of the brands you shout out and highlight on your platforms.


It may not make sense to go out of your way to show off what your competition is doing, but if there are occasions when building community between brands seems natural, it can be a great thing. Positive interactions between you and your fellow brands helps customers understand the benefits of collaboration and the community ideals of your company.

These are just a few of the many contradictory marketing techniques that are not often listed in generic marketing guidelines. If you’re considering building a new marketing campaign or expanding an existing one, our team of expert project managers, designers, writers, and optimizers can help. Contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today for more information about SEO/marketing in Minneapolis, MN.

4 Kinds of Keyword Research for Marketing and SEO Web Development in Rochester, MN

web development

Just as with many other technologies, the way search engines and web systems work changes over time. As recently as just a few years ago, Google and other search engine algorithms favored websites with saturated keywords and over-stuffed URLs. Today, those same practices are penalized. If you’re new to web development, it might be daunting to know where to start. Building a website requires a complex combination of design elements, relevant text and data content, keywords, search engine rule following, and more. To integrate the best search engine optimization (SEO) systems into your web presence, you have to follow the requirements set by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search algorithms to put your website on the map in terms of ranking. A higher rank on a search engine results page (SERP) will give your website more visibility, credibility, trustworthiness, and authority. One of the greatest tools available to website and content creators for both SEO and marketing purposes is the use of keywords. As a third-party marketing firm and provider of expert web development in Rochester, MN, MLT Group LLC uses a wealth of knowledge and experience to embed and implement the right keywords in the right places on your site.


Our web design, marketing, social media, and SEO experts, graphic designers, videographers, producers, and project managers offer comprehensive services to meet any of your online objectives. If you’re embarking on a web design process alone, however, it’s important to remember the usefulness of keywords.


Keywords on your site will help lead search engines to your web pages, content, and media in many ways. Not only are keywords directly linked to various types of user inquiries, but they can also help you decide the most effective content to create, build marketing campaigns, and utilize social media effectively. Researching which keywords will be the most effective for your brand can follow several different paths depending on what purpose they will serve.

Keyword Analysis

The four main categories of keyword analysis include research for SEO and search engine marketing, research for social media marketing, content creation research, and research into specific audiences or market demographics.

Web Development

For web development objectives, understanding those four paths for keyword research can help you build content that better meets user needs and improve your Google ranking.

SEO and search engine marketing keywords:

This type of keyword research is considered “classic” investigation. Determining which keywords relate to your brand and overall website content while also meeting user inquiries will increase your SERP ranking. Some basic SEO keyword use could be the inclusion of a general search term with a location. For instance, if your website serves as an e-commerce retail space but you also own a physical store, you can benefit from the use of keywords specific to your products, online shopping terms, and your actual locations. To use an existing example, if a user searches “vintage band t-shirts in Rochester, MN,” they will see there is an online store featured at the top of the Google search results for Ragstock. A branch of this retailer is located in a Rochester mall, but it also provides online shopping for vintage band t-shirts and other clothing. Using keywords to match the most-searched user inquiries (whether those searches are information-based, navigational, or transactional) in relation to your site content is the primary way to improve your SEO results.


Another use of keywords for SEO/marketing purposes, specifically for search engine-based marketing, is for targeted promotions and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The keywords used in these kinds of ads work similarly to SEO keywords on your actual website. Google and other search engines will rank ads that their algorithms find relevant to the user inquiry higher on SERPs. Paid promos and PPC ads related to keyword searches are also favored above organic results, often at the top of a SERP.

Audience and market research keywords:

You can also use keyword research to learn more about your audience or a specific user demographic. Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner system, your own website’s analytics, or even through market research with various news media like Reddit, YouTube, Quora, and Google News, you can pinpoint what audiences are asking, buying, talking about, interested in, unhappy about, and more. With keyword research geared towards audience behavior, you can also determine demographics like ages, locations, professions, languages, and other information. Google Trends is another free system that allows you to search keywords to see their level of trending over certain periods of time. Using keywords relevant to your online brand that are trending across large audiences or are discovered for niche user sets can assist you in building a diverse and dependable following to market to.

SERP ranking

Using keywords for a broad audience (like “vintage fashion”) combined with more unusual or underground keywords that are still related to your content (such as “vintage 1950s letterman jacket”) can be one of the most effective ways to grow your audience simply through SERP ranking.

Social media marketing keywords:

Another extremely effective use of keyword research is determining social media trends and understanding how to use hashtags (and tags in general) accurately. If you have an online presence, it’s highly recommended that you also have at least one social media platform. Ideally, brands should utilize the broad reach that multiple platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat provide. Each of these social media platforms offers fully-developed “SEO” systems that use similar properties to actual search engine algorithms. These platforms index and rank accounts, tags, topics, and even images to best answer a user inquiry based on keywords and location.

Social Media Marketing

The trick to social media marketing is that each platform system is different from the rest. A trending post on Instagram won’t translate to video formats, and it may not hold the same attention on Facebook or Pinterest. Similarly, popular tweets reposted on Instagram and Facebook may actually be penalized for showing up as text content spam or advertisements that break platform rules. The best way to effectively use each social media platform’s keyword system is to spend time learning their various search systems and formats with the information applicable to your brand and audience.

Content creation keywords:

One rule of good SEO is to continue publishing fresh content that adds richness to your web presence, provides real information to your audience, and follows the rules of search engine algorithms. The pressure of creating new content frequently can make it difficult to plan what blogs or news to generate. That’s where keyword research for content creation can play a significant role in guiding your publishing path and answering your “who, what, where, when, why, and how” questions. Content creation will naturally intertwine with your overall approach to SEO practices, sharing your brand goals and getting results together.

Fresh Content

Although fresh content creation for the sake of staying prominent in the eyes of search engines is important, you can also use keyword research to determine other reasons why content should be made. For example, using content to grow email subscriptions, generate sales, partner with other brands, introduce new projects or leadership, and gain new certifications or authority over your work can all be important reasons for generating a blog post or even building a new web page. Using the right keywords in that kind of content will only make their release have a more effective impact on audience growth and SERP ranking.

Keyword research opens many doors to building your online presence positively. Whether you are building a brand-new site or enriching existing content, we can help. To learn more about the use of keywords for web development in Rochester, MN, contact MLT Group today at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online.

And the Winner is…!

The winner has been announced! Congratulations to Mike Pruett, MLT Group CEO, on being chosen the winner of the 2022 Rochesterfest Button Design Contest for 2022! Mike’s design was one of the 35 received this year and made it into the “Final Five” to be voted on via the Rochesterfest website and Facebook. For his winning design, Mike will be presented with a check for $300 at the Rochesterfest Button Kickoff event scheduled for May, and at that time, buttons will be available to the public for $5.

MLT Group

Mike is the founder and CEO of MLT Group Creative Solutions, overseeing the team and general business operations, working closely with designers and clients to develop engaging marketing and advertising solutions across all media for a diverse range of clients and markets across the country. Mike’s exceptional talents also include the creation and editing of video and audio content. His services are in demand across the country, and many of his repeat clients feel he is truly a master at his profession!


Mike is a firm believer in community service and continues to support and actively participate in a wide variety of community organizations. Through the years he has provided his professional services to the City of Rochester and Olmsted County, and many civic and private non-profit organizations have benefited from Mike’s participation, contributions, and talents.


This is not Mike’s first time as a Rochesterfest Button design winner! Believe it or not, this is Mike’s third win! Mike also won in 2008 and 2021! He has also helped the Rochesterfest organization in other ways, such as the video he created for the 2019 Rochesterfest.

With his wealth of creative ability and unparalleled commitment to community service and generous support, Mike lives and works his desire to provide the best services available and support every opportunity that comes his way with 110% of his energy!

Again, congratulations to Mike Pruett, winner of the 2022 Rochesterfest Button Design contest!