What Makes an Effective Provider of Digital SEO/Marketing in Minnesota

The world of digital marketing has grown into today’s complex, nuanced technical system. To successfully market your brand online, there are many required actions, like generating URLs and having a well-made website. However, there are also many optional things you can also do to boost your marketing performance and grow your audience, such as using SEO (search engine optimization) tools and maintaining social media platforms. Because of the many tools, features, and possibilities that are all a part of digital marketing, it’s no wonder that it can be a daunting process for small businesses and brands to manage their own digital marketing operations effectively. Fortunately, there are many agencies that provide highly affordable outside marketing services at varying levels. If you are looking for a digital marketing company to meet your needs for creative, smart SEO/marketing in Minnesota or anywhere in the US, MLT Group LLC has the skills and tools to get the job done. We provide comprehensive marketing services including SEO, social media, web design, graphic design, video production, and more.

Determining the Right SEO

Experience, current knowledge, levels of services, and costs are all factors that can vary widely when looking at agency services. To choose the right digital marketing provider, you first need to determine your digital marketing goals. Some brands need an entire restructuring and rewriting of their website, including text and media content, design, URLs, and SEO tools. Some companies only need the extra SEO support of a regularly scheduled informational blog or news release. Others might benefit best from an aggressive link and citation building campaign.

Digital Marketing

From full web design to writing and optimizing effective blog content, MLT Group’s team can provide whatever marketing and brand building strategy you need. If you’ve determined your goals, we can consult with you to pinpoint what SEO, social media, or other digital marketing steps we should take to help you reach those goals. We provide competitive pricing for our creative solutions and our communication is always straightforward and jargon-free.

When searching for an effective digital marketing agency, there are several factors to consider. Some of the major concerns you should look for include a quality website, strong team, toolbox, industry expertise, trustworthiness, and testimonials or reviews.

Quality Website

If a company is going to design your website or provide other content creation, you should always look at their own site for red flags like slow loading times, poor design qualities, lack of fresh content, low resolution, and a bad user experience. A well-designed site should have consistent aesthetics, clear navigation, high SEO ranking, a method of routinely releasing fresh information, calls to action, load times of two seconds or faster, and a positive user experience. The MLT website, for example, maintains an active newsfeed, features our personal design aesthetics on every page, has clear calls to action, provides easy navigation, utilizes SEO keywords and geo-locations, and more. If a digital marketing company has a quality website, it’s the first sign that they will lend that quality to their work with your brand as well.

Strong Team

As a small company, our team of talented staff members share the values of all the small businesses we work with. Even the larger companies we work with, like MultiSource Manufacturing and several ServiceMaster branches, have the same foundational values for providing quality, reliable, and trustworthy services. We support companies that in turn support their industries positively, care for their staff and customers, and overall do everything they can to give to their communities. If you are looking for a digital marketing agency that will fit into your company culture, you should check out the expertise and diversity of their team members. MLT’s staff is composed of talented web development specialists, designers, marketing experts, writers, and many other great people we are honored to have on our team.

Tools

Any effective marketing provider will have the right tools and equipment in their purview. This includes project management solutions, methods of measuring website performance, social media analytics, email marketing systems, CRM (customer relationship management) technology, CRO (conversion rate optimization) measurements, graphic design software, video production capabilities, ways to calculate ROI (return on investment), and more. Marketing campaigns require the right analytics and communication tools to measure performance and make alterations when needed. Not only do we have all of these tools and more, we outsource work to skilled freelancers whenever necessary so your campaign schedule is always running on time.

Industry Expertise

When selecting the right marketing agency for your brand, considering their experience and expertise in the industry is also a key indicator of their quality and effectiveness. If a company doesn’t provide a portfolio of their past work clearly on their website, that is likely a warning sign that they are inexperienced or have a history of performing low quality work. MLT Group has industry expertise and experience working with a broad range of different companies and online brands. We provide comprehensive digital marketing and web design services for companies like contract manufacturers, bankruptcy firms, disaster restoration providers, veterans and US troops, university programs, health providers, engineers, property managers, auto parts sellers, welding suppliers, dentists, tree care and landscapers, warehouse storage, bus and trucking companies, and many others. Our SEO/marketing services are versatile, well researched, and effective for a broad range of websites and industries.

Trustworthiness

With so many marketing agencies in the industry today, it’s important to customers that the agency they choose be trustworthy, open, and clearly communicate services and expectations. At MLT Group  we want to be clear about what we can help our customers achieve in their campaigns and why things cost what they cost. We don’t use industry jargon or hide behind the many acronyms that come with the digital marketing world. We also routinely publish informational blogs that cover topics about digital marketing, including how-tos, SEO basics, explanations of terminology, and much more. MLT Group is committed to supporting ADA compliance for our site, and we encourage our customers to do the same. Our website is fully customizable for persons with visual or hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, ADHD, and more. The tools that allow users to adjust our site can be used to alter color, contrast, font size and readability, letter spacing, alignment, line height, magnification, sounds, images, animation, and focus. Our goal as a company is to continue expanding our accessibility for greater inclusion of users and user trust.

Social Proof

When  large percentage of a population are in agreement about a topic, item, product, or practice, this is called social proof. If something has social proof, it’s generally considered to be of good quality. When you’re deciding what digital marketing agency to use for your brand, you can usually choose one that will give you a good experience as a customer and good services that advance your marketing campaign if you can determine their social proof. Positive reviews and testimonials are the most common formats for social proof of any business, including marketing agencies. A company can spout its worth to you all day long, but the proof of that can only be found in the telling of other customers’ experiences. Check out our testimonials for just a few stories from our current and previous clients.

MLT Group is a boutique marketing firm that provides complete, effective services for SEO/marketing in Minnesota and the surrounding regions. We listen to your needs and work with you to develop marketing strategies that will yield quality results. To learn more about our services contact us at (507) 281-3490 or sales@mltgroup.com

Features of an Effective Marketing Firm for Quality Web Development in Minneapolis, MN

Whether you own a company serving local customers or a brand recognized internationally, having a website with user friendly tools, in depth information about your brand or business, and a unique design aesthetic are all key factors in digital marketing success. There are many ways to build a quality website yourself, even with minimal development knowledge, including with the many web building services available today. However, these web builders can cause design issues, create functionality roadblocks, and may lack in search engine optimization (SEO) tools. The mid to high cost for web builder services at top tiers may not be worth it to many brands. Small marketing firms in your area often compete with web builder costs while providing a better range of services, flexibility, creativity, and overall greater level of care. MLT Group LLC offers comprehensive services for web development in Minneapolis, MN and the Upper Midwest, including digital marketing, SEO services, social media marketing, graphic design, video production, and web design.

Effective Web Development

There are many properties of effective web development, and while many technical aspects of web design may shift with time (such as Google and other search engine algorithms), there are several core values that remain largely constant. Even with more and more cookie cutter web builders coming onto the market, there are still many reasons to work with an independent marketing agency.

web development

Cookie Cutter vs. Custom

Web builders rely on templates that make it easier for anyone using their services to build nice looking websites quickly. However, these templates tend to become cookie cutter examples of excessive website conformity. The first problem with template or cookie cutter websites is that they are not unique. Many other brands, including your competitors, may use the same web builder services and templates. If your website starts to look the same as others, the creative and innovative aspects of your company may be overshadowed by the conformity of your site design.

Website Functionality

Another issue with cookie cutter websites is their functionality. Templates provided through web builder services may not include unique tools for media incorporation, ecommerce, and other custom needs. Additionally they often don’t give you options to accurately manage your SEO performance. Cookie cutter sites often offer some SEO tools, but without the ability to fully tailor to your specific brand’s SEO requirements. Some brands need ecommerce SEO emphasis, while others might need SEO that increases readership of fresh content.

Templates

The templates offered through web builder services may be easy to use to a point, but if you don’t have any web design expertise, you’ll struggle in the confines of your selected template. By outsourcing your online development process to an affordable marketing firm, you’ll be able to expand far beyond the limitations of templates. The goal of a marketing firm is to customize your website and marketing campaign every step of the way, giving you ownership over your brand and web presence that a cookie cutter website cannot accomplish.

Small Firm Effect

There are several ideas behind the concept of Small Firm Effect. Firstly, small businesses exist for a reason. They are serving a purpose that larger companies are not able to provide, and their continued success is evidence of this fulfillment. Secondly, small market capitalization has a tendency to outperform large market players, partly because they offer more boutique, quality services. Small companies are able to thrive with a quality over quantity approach to business, much the opposite of large corporations’ usual inability to provide the level of service quality that small firms can. Because they can’t provide a boutique level of quality, larger companies rely on quantity over quality.

Smaller firms can offer better quality services because they are more flexible and nimble to changes in projects or markets, their smaller staff is more attentive to customer needs, and with fewer projects on the schedule, they can spend more time and energy on precision and tailoring. Small companies can also focus on locally targeted content and become a part of online or physical communities.

SEO Marketing

Effective SEO tools will place your website in higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERP). Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use crawling bots that scan the content, data, security, and other aspects of your website pages. They will then index that information and rank sites based on how positively and accurately they answer a search query according to the search engine algorithm. Algorithms change over time, but many core SEO practices stay relevant for long term use. One example is backlinking. Backlinks have survived as a potent ranking factor despite the banning of many backlink related spam techniques. An example of an outdated SEO practice is keyword stuffing or overloading the use of keywords in your text content. A change that is coming in SEO marketing practices is Google’s launch of their Page Experience signal system. These new SEO guidelines are geared to favor websites with strong user experience metrics, including fast load times, interactivity, and balanced visuals.

Pay Per Click

SEM marketing techniques like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and Google Ads can be effective, but nothing beats SEO practices for positive results and cost effectiveness. The strategic use of keywords and multimedia, installation of metadata, URL building, continued release of fresh content, and increased accessibility for a broader range of users will all play a significant role in improving your SEO. Our team of SEO experts, freelance writers, graphic designers, and video production staff combine forces to make our customers’ websites soar to higher ranks on SERPs.

Social Media Marketing

Another aspect of effective web marketing is the use of social media platforms to promote your brand and grow your audience. Having multiple social media outlets for your company might seem like a lot of tedious work in order to build hashtags, create well designed visual content, and write strong captions, but there are ways to streamline the process. The best social media presences will have a team dedicated to running on mainstream platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Social media marketing campaigns can see even further audience growth by creating video content for platforms that are expanding the internet in unique ways, such as TikTok and Snapchat. If you can’t afford your own social media marketing team you can still get a whole team working for you by contracting with an agency like MLT Group.

Improving Social Media

To get started improving your social media marketing presence, there are a few basic steps you can take. Or have experienced digital marketing pros help you with these steps.

  1. Establish your ideal customer and target audience. This can include demographics like age, location, income, social media presences, job titles, and aesthetics.
  2. Examine your current presence before determining the next steps forward. Pinpoint which platforms and networks you are the most important to your target audiences and optimize your presence on those accounts with clear photos, descriptions, bios, and URLs.
  3. Make a messaging that is a constant across all your social media platforms and your website. This messaging should explain to your audiences the values of your brand and help build trust with potential and existing users.
  4. Calculate your key performance indicators (KPI). Social media analytics often provide metrics that work as KPIs, such as likes, shares, conversion rates, brand shout outs, sentimental feedback, time spent on each platform, and post reach.
  5. Create fresh and engaging content on a regular basis. Social media is a great space to humanize your brand, show what’s going on “behind the scenes,” and overall build a fun and interesting environment beyond the professional aspects of your website. You can also use your platforms to curate other brands; content and outreach to build relationships with like-minded companies.
  6. Track your data, analyze results, and use this feedback to continually optimize your social media marketing practices. Social media platforms are the best spaces for trial and error because of their low cost and ease of content production.

If you also utilize ecommerce as a primary part of company operations, pairing those online sales tools with SEO, social media, custom site design, and the support of a boutique firm will help your brand grow and build a dedicated audience with strong user relationships.

To learn more about our services for web development in Minneapolis, MN and across the country, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490 or at sales@mltgroup.com.

The Power of Modern Video Production in Rochester, MN for Website Media

MLT Group has provided professional video production services since 1986. Since then our services have grown to include social media marketing, graphic design, web design, SEO, and more. Our video services team has decades of experience creating visual and audio rich productions that are excellent ways to engage your audience, improve your professional image, and provide a wealth of information concisely and memorably. Videos have long ranked as the most effective communication and marketing tool compared to other content, having outpaced text content and images. With the high-resolution screens and fast internet of today’s highly technological world, videos have come into their own. With our capabilities for video production in Rochester, MN, the Upper Midwest region, and even nationally, brands can increase site traffic, grow their audience, and create long-lasting impressions with viewers.

Digital Devices

In early 2020, reports showed individuals spend an average of 3.7 hours a day on digital devices. Since the coronavirus pandemic enhanced dependence on digital access for hundreds of millions, that number has likely increased significantly. Much of the content we interact with online is video. From YouTube videos to streaming services, it’s rare to go through your day without watching at least one video.

As a provider of comprehensive video production services, including corporate and industrial videos, animation, videos for the web and social media, and even 4k resolution aerial video, we know there are several growing trends in the video world for businesses and organizations to keep in mind.

Some Statistics:

  1. Video display sizes are shrinking with larger percentages of users watching them on smartphones, tablets, and other smaller devices. Video producers should keep in mind how details and spatial placement of on-screen images will be processed visually on smaller screens.
  2. 49% of users watch over five videos daily.
  3. Most users report they find video advertisements more relevant than other formats.
  4. YouTube was ranked higher than Facebook in 2020 for consumer traction and effectiveness in changing consumer behavior.
  5. Online videos are predicted to take up 82% of consumer traffic by 2022. This is 15 times higher than it was in 2017.
  6. 73% of adults in the US utilize YouTube, including almost all 15 to 25-year-olds.
  7. 90% of DIY makers use how-to videos on YouTube.
  8. 60% of businesses use videos for marketing purposes.
  9. 50% of marketers using video have been doing so for at least a year.
  10. 14% of marketers make videos daily.
  11. 36% of marketers make videos weekly.
  12. 94% of brands using video will continue to rely on it for effective marketing purposes.
  13. 74% of businesses using marketing videos say it has a higher return on investment (ROI) than photographs, pictures, or other static imagery.
  14. 68% of businesses say videos have a better ROI than Google Ads.
  15. The consumption of videos on mobile devices increases annually by 100%.

These statistics show by the numbers that videos are the content of the future, and our consumption of video media will only increase as a nation. If you aren’t convinced that there is power to modern video content and video marketing strategies, think about the way you interact with the videos you see around you. Even if you don’t seek out YouTube or Facebook videos, use streaming services, or watch TV, you’ll likely be exposed to a video somewhere in the world.

Video Content

Video content is everywhere, from screens on gas station pumps to digital billboards. Most employers require their staff to watch videos for training, announcements, and other work-related relays of information. News providers use video footage whenever they have it to show what’s happening in the world. Video content has increased so significantly over the years because it is the number one most engaging material, and those who use it know how well it works.

If you’re considering incorporating video content into your brand’s image, marketing strategy, or website, there are three levels of media formats to consider. These levels are the ABCs of video content, and each is effective in various ways.

A-Level:

A-level videos are generally the most polished, produced types of video content and the most expensive and often time-consuming productions. However, these videos can be worth their cost and effort if you need to create a professional, credible, and trustworthy impression. National commercials, corporate profiles, TV products, product explanations, and brand overviews are just some examples of A-level videos that can establish a clear description of the video topic in a professional way. Brands typically partner with a video or marketing company to create a scripted, staged video, often filmed with high resolution cameras and sound systems.

Most brands produce a few A-level videos to establish the quality of their brand, products, or services. Two great examples of A-level company videos are the My Career. My Culture. and My Kohler. commercial for Kohler and their Altogether Kohler highlight reel.

B-Level:

Companies and organizations with smaller budgets may produce mostly B-level material. These videos are generally planned out, scripted, shot, and edited professionally, but without big-budget production values. Even if they aren’t perfect, these videos are highly effective for growing your audience and imparting trustworthiness and authenticity to users. Such videos can create a great connection between your users and your brand without breaking your budget. Common B-level videos include regional commercials, internal corporate videos, how-to videos, educational content, social media videos, video series, testimonials, product demonstrations, and staff profiles.

The lower costs of B-level videos can allow brands to publish new content regularly. With regular video content users will see consistency and reliability in your brand’s practices. To produce a video of this quality requires a script, a production design, on-screen talent, organization and scheduling, professional video equipment and videographers, a director to work with your talent, design for graphics and animation, voice over talent and studio sound recording, and finally professional video editing and mastering.

C-Level:

Finally, we have C-level video content. While C-level videos are the least produced, rawest, and most unpolished content, they can also be one of the best ways to connect with your audience and humanize your brand and team. C-level videos can be done as quickly as pulling out a cell phone or webcam and recording. Some C-level videos include sharing sessions, on-location industry highlights, social media story videos, live polls, product chats, and more. These videos personalize your employees, they can show how passionate your brand is, you can use them to communicate directly with your audience, and because they are the cheapest to produce, you can release C-level content frequently. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat have live feeds and story options that are ideal for releasing C-level videos.

Another benefit of using C-level videos is that they require little editing, they often don’t need more than one person to shoot, and they are low cost. Even if you invest in a portable light and microphone to improve lighting and audio quality, you can usually get these tools for less than $50.

Video Production

No matter what kind of video content you produce or hire a professional to make for you, it’s always a great practice to generate captions to the audio or provide transcriptions of the video into a text format. Not only does this help your brand become more ADA compliant, it will expand your audience, make your site a more inclusive user space, and demonstrate your ethical practices.

To learn more about our video production services in Rochester, MN, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com today.

2022 Web Design Trends in Minneapolis, MN That Will Improve Your Brand Image Online

Since the coronavirus forced nonessential shutdowns and working from home became the norm, internet technology dramatically increased its development speeds. New tools and systems are advanced almost daily, design elements and product features trend with frequent turnover rates, and changing SEO algorithms can make or break your site’s effectiveness on search engine platforms. If you own an online brand, it can be challenging to know what the best methods are for success. To answer some of your questions, we’ve gathered data on what’s working and what’s popular today for SEO and design growth. There are a few trends we’ve predicted will become some of the pioneers for web design in 2022. If you need comprehensive, high quality web development and SEO services, MLT Group’s experts can provide web design, marketing, SEO, social media, video production, graphic design, and more. We provide services for complete web development while meeting contemporary web design trends in Minneapolis, MN and across the country.

Web Design Trends

While there are web building foundations and core values that can remain valid for many years and change only with the invention of significantly new technology, there are also hundreds of standards that shift with web design trends. From SEO algorithms created by search engines to the general visual aesthetics of a website, there are many aspects of web design that can rapidly change as new trends arise.

This coming year will likely see changes to web design and technology, especially because of Google’s spring launch of the Page Experience update. This update changes the SEO algorithm for Google rankings to place greater emphasis on user experience. Google’s SEO index and ranking system will now favor sites that have media, tools, aesthetics, and other features that improve user experience.

Some other changes that are predicted to be major web design trends in 2022 include the following:

Fun and positivity:

After the heaviness of 2020 and 2021, users are predicted to respond better to fun, positive, and visually optimistic site designs. This means colors will trend bolder and brighter, sites might include nonconforming functional features like animations and illustrations, and there might be an increase in the use of visual and sonic media. We are already seeing trends of sites using illustrated entry pages, animated buttons, unique fonts, and even games. With a trend of lighthearted, positive messaging both literally and visually, brands are building their websites to connect with users who are just now easing back into pre-pandemic patterns of life.

Some great examples of sites using fun, positive design systems include the Bernard Forever site, Grace Potter’s site, the Guns 2 Swords site, the Great British Bake Off site, and many more. An easy way to start incorporating fun and positive designs into your site is to increase your use of bright colors, include more visual media like photos or illustrations, and increase movement of site tools without compromising the user’s ability to navigate your pages (such as a bouncing page button or a photo reel).

3D and interactive:

Another predicted trend for web design in 2022 is the incorporation of three-dimensional systems and the increase in user interactive systems. This is largely due to the excitement around newly developed technology, but we think it’s a trend that will last because it improves the user experience and opens the door for increased brand presence at the forefront of modern web designs. 3D designs and interactive multimedia can exist because of the high resolution and detailing capabilities of today’s screens. Standards in image quality have shifted from HD to 4K over the last couple years, and some devices even use 6K-8K screen resolutions. In addition to increased resolution, internet speeds, broadband limits, and data feeds have increased dramatically to gather information better and faster.

Thanks to increased abilities for screen resolution and internet speeds, websites can incorporate cutting edge technologies for 3D and multimedia design. This includes augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), smart video, interactive statistics content, micro animations, large scale videos, highly expanded images, and more. These design features can be used to make your site more engaging for the user, increasing your brand profile and improving your profile’s imagery.

However, when incorporating 3D and interactive designs, it’s important to keep in mind that many users might not have access to screens with the highest resolution or internet capacities that can load complex media. There are ways to still build 3D and multimedia systems into your site design that can add richness to your brand and still be simple enough in coding and data requirements for all users to process on their devices. Two great examples of this are the Sennep site and the Kaspersky security company map.

ScrollyTelling:

ScrollyTelling, or narrative visualization, has been a growing trend over the last couple years. This involves the presentation of long form content in a text format “translated” for the user by breaking down each part of the text into smaller sections and including images and other media along the way. ScrollyTelling can impart information in 1,000 words or more to the user by breaking that information into intuitive paragraphs accompanied by related imagery. It resembles the way magazines format long form articles and editorials. This system of narrative visualization can be built into your site design easily, using the existing aesthetics and formatted spaces of your pages.

ScrollyTelling is a useful way to impart informational or journalistic articles, blogs, or product pages to your users. Some great examples of narratively visualized pages include the Apple AirPods product page, MLT Group’s page on SEO for Minneapolis, and a very in depth Huffington Post interview with chef José Andrés.

Also referred to as “deep dive content”, this style of web page has special importance for search engine optimization. Pages of 2,000 words and more provide Google and other search engines with a cue that the page may be a good resource for searchers. Utilizing scrollytelling design concepts makes these long form pages as engaging as they are important to SEO.

Mindful and accessible:

With a growing social importance placed on equality, human rights, and inclusive activism, it’s no wonder that mindful and accessible web design is a huge trend today. Especially after the pandemic lockdowns when everyone turned to the internet for news, entertainment, and work more than ever before, web designers realized they needed to make their sites clearer, quieter, and more direct. Part of mindful web design is to make your site a low stress, clean, and oriented space for the user. This includes using your white/negative space to create a sense of calm, removing overwhelming and unneeded graphics, and generally optimizing your site for as many types of users as possible.

Making your site mobile optimized and thumb navigation friendly will also increase the user’s accessibility, as most will interact with your site on their phones and laptops interchangeably.

A big part of making your site mindful and accessible is to adapt it to become ADA compliant. Incorporating features that follow the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is not only an ethical practice, it will also expand your usership to people with disabilities like visual or hearing impairments, seizure conditions, cognitive issues, and much more. To learn more about our ADA compliant features, click the blue circular button in the bottom left corner of our site.

2022 web development standards:

In addition to these general design trends, there will also be standardized developments that will improve your site’s ranking in search engine indexes. Two of these coming requirements include mobile first design and SSL certificates. Optimizing your site for mobile is not only a mindful and accessible design system, it’s just not really optional anymore. Since 2017, almost half of the global web traffic was done from a mobile device, and Google uses mobile optimization standards as one of their key ranking systems. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates started as their own trend, but today are a highly standardized security system. SSL security measures authenticate the validity of your site to users, and they encrypt the translated data, protecting user devices and identities.

These are just some popular web design trends in Minneapolis, MN predicted for 2022. To learn more about web design and our comprehensive services, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

 

Signs of Quality Web Development in St. Paul, MN

One of the most effective ways to build a brand online and grow your company is to have a high quality, attractive, and well-functioning website. Building a good website takes time, hard work, and intention. Your website is a direct representation of the aesthetics, professionalism, and abilities of your brand. In today’s highly digital world, your website is the primary way that your audience learns about your products, services, or goals as a company. User response to the form and function of a website will almost immediately determine if they will continue to interact with your brand or click away. In fact, many reports show that users are 50% less likely to interact with a site that takes longer than two seconds to load. Maintaining visual interest, creating a trustworthy atmosphere, building accessibility, and providing all the necessary information clearly are some of the basic foundational tactics to establishing a great website. At MLT Group, we provide comprehensive web development in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Rochester, the surrounding areas, and the rest of the United States. We serve a broad range of brands and companies and can help you grow as a business by creating an effective website with accessible content for a diverse audience.

Web Development

There are many aspects of effective web development that go into building a quality website, but all of those elements will fall into two categories: form and function. The function of your website includes your informational content, navigation, user interface, and many other components of how well your website works and what tools are available to your audience. The form of your site covers the aesthetics, design, responsive layout, and other cosmetic factors that make it desirable, easy, and even fun for users to interact with.

When you start building your website, understanding the fundamental purpose of its function is critical before you can consider any of the design or form aesthetics.

Function

The function of your website is the reason why it exists and the practical way it works. Do you need it to provide information to users, sell products, promote your services, or create a location for your audience? Most likely, you’ll need it to do all that and more. There are several core values of website functionality that will get you started with a great foundation for your web development right away.

Outline your website’s purpose(s):

Consider the reason your brand exists and focus on its most primary purposes. If you sell products and services, the primary purpose of your website is ecommerce. If your brand is a publication, your website’s primary purpose is to relay your published content into a digital format. While “purpose” can quickly become complex when marketing, audience interactions, and many other goals come up, it’s important to make the primary purpose of your brand the true footing of your web development.

Make your site easy to use:

Site visitors are often impatient. Your website needs to load quickly and have easily accessible information. The best way to start building a site that is easy to navigate is to conform to some aspects of traditional website design. This often means having clear dropdown menus, consistent placement of buttons, links, text, and images, a home page button, social media pathways, search bars, and more. If users can find information easily on your website, it will make them more likely to continue interaction beyond what they originally came to find.

Optimize for devices:

You never know what kind of device a user is using to interact with your website. The only way to be sure everything is loading correctly and showing all your content in the format you want it to is to optimize your site for every kind of device, including desktops, smartphones, tablets, and other screens. The fact is there is no excuse for a website to show up jumbled, not load, or have other issues on different devices in this day and age. Optimizing for mobile and other devices will improve user interface and make your website more attractive to search engines.

Use SEO tools:

When you implement search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, you can improve the chances of your website’s inclusion in search engine results. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use specific algorithms to gather web results for users searching specific terms. If a user searches “sushi near me,” for example, the algorithm will pull up top rated sushi restaurants in the targeted location. The algorithm will favor websites that are built well and optimized, websites that use the keyword “sushi” and the target location, and websites that use other SEO tools. Additional SEO tools include specific text, using page titles, tags, sitemaps, frequent publishing of fresh content, and more.

Use social media platforms:

Putting your brand on multiple social media platforms can improve your image, create unique communication pathways with your audience, and make your website more legitimate. You don’t have to use every social media platform out there, but it’s a good idea to utilize the three mains: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. These days, many successful brands also use Snapchat and Tik Tok. Linking these platforms with apps that act as single hubs will make it easier to maintain new content on all accounts at once.

Form

Once your main purpose and the foundation of website function is established, you can start to consider the form of your site. Well-crafted visuals and a specific design aesthetic will play a large part in building your brand and cultivating an audience. Design practices can look different for many brands, but there are some basic principles everyone should follow.

Colors:

Even if you choose to follow muted or grayscale color schemes, your color choices will say a lot about your brand. We all know that colors affect our emotions, associations, references, and much more. Choose colors for your brand that will positively impact all of the design choices and aesthetics you build into your website in the future. From a practical standpoint, it’s important to pick colors that aren’t overly distracting, make your site readable, and create visual consistency throughout your site. A generic color scheme for a website will use three to eight colors that fit different placements, including the background, title fonts, subtexts, line, buttons, and more.

Font:

Typography is another design factor that plays a large role in establishing your brand aesthetic. There are thousands of fonts available for free, specialty fonts can be purchased, and some brands design their own fonts for anything from their logo to the text on their entire website. Your font choice will also affect how users view your brand. Neutral fonts can relay information quickly and effectively, but more creative fonts can impart artistry and brand effort. Make the font choice for titles, paragraph content, subtitles, logos, and more that will best suit your brand.

Visual hierarchy:

A visual hierarchy determines the arrangement of each website component or media. This hierarchy can apply to colors and font choices, negative space, texture, style, images, or other media. Using a visual hierarchy can help you guide the focus of the user. For example, most users interact with bright or large elements before spending time reading text content. Most users also read pages in an F shape, moving left to right and top to bottom. Creating a grid layout with the visual hierarchy starting in the top left corner of a page is a common way website designers build an attractive aesthetic that users find easy to use.

Media:

Visual media elements like images and videos almost always attract user attention better than text content. Incorporating media without compromising the load time and your website usability can shape a brand design and make your site more appealing to impatient users. Whenever you utilize visuals like images and videos, creating accessibility around them for visually impaired users will increase the diversity of your audience, improve the ethical practices of your business, and make your brand more likeable in general. Adding text descriptions of media makes those design aspects accessible to anyone with a screen reader, text-to-voice app, or other tool that translates visuals to audible content.

Simplicity:

Even if your design aesthetic is bright, heavy in texture, idiosyncratic, or complex in other ways, you should always maintain simplicity in the foundation of your website’s form. Your visuals can be whatever you want, as long as they do not make it difficult for users to read your website, find links, scroll, or interact with your site in any way. The Yale School of Art website is a good example of when overly complicated design gets in the way of user interface. An example of when a complicated visual design built on a simple platform makes for a great website is the Museum of Contemporary Art of Detroit site. Start from a point of simplicity and build your aesthetics on top of that, rather than throwing user ease out the window in favor of visual design.

These basics will help guide you in building a quality website for good functionality with your brand’s specific aesthetic form. Calls to action, email lists, the continued release of fresh content, and many other practices will also play a role in developing your brand and improving your website quality.

To learn more about web development in St. Paul, MN and throughout the region, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

Avoiding Content Cannibalization and Self Plagiarism with SEO/Marketing in Minneapolis, MN

If you run an online brand or company website, you probably know how important it is to generate fresh content on a routine basis. With frequently published, original content your site will be more attractive to algorithms used by search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Search engines use a crawl, index, and rank system to find website results that they deem to be most valuable to any given user inquiry. Originality is important to the engines and algorithms. With crawling bots reviewing all the components of your site whenever content is created, search engines indexing that new information, and results pages ranking for user inquiries from that index of websites, you can imagine it becomes a problem for your website’s performance if you publish content that plagiarizes other sites. Additionally, if your site content self-plagiarizes or cannibalizes your older site data that is a problem too. MLT Group provides effective content creation for up-to-date SEO/Marketing in Minneapolis, MN and the surrounding area. Heck, all across the USA actually. With our services, you can have professionals creating original content for your site and be sure none of your content is detrimental to itself from accidental cannibalizing or plagiarizing practices.

Google and other search engines change their algorithms over time, which means older content might have SEO/Marketing features that aren’t effective anymore. For example, Google now punishes sites that overload keyword content, while in the past websites were rewarded for that practice with higher placement on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are fixes for both plagiarized content and self-plagiarism. The latter is usually a result of lazy content creation or a lack of attention to automatically generated or queued content.

Cause and Effect of Self-Plagiarism

Self-plagiarism of website content can be as obvious as the exact same text or media published multiple times on your page or as subtle as metadata and URL copies. One example of common self-plagiarism is with ecommerce sites when products are duplicated to create a similar, but ultimately different product page. Duplicating a product requires the content creator to double check every data point about the entry, including title, price, quantity, description, images, tags, URL, stock keeping units (SKU), collection or group, color, size, and more. It can be simple to duplicate a product to create a new one that has many similar data points as the other one, but the creator needs to remember to change the points that search engines interact with when ranking indexed sites. If you have many duplicate title cards and other copied aspects of a page that will show up as a header on a SERP, your site becomes less attractive to a search engine ranking algorithm.

Another example of self-plagiarism is republishing old content that is still published in its original place on your site. Copying and pasting an old blog under the guise of new information is a poor SEO practice. Not only is it a hallmark of spam websites, but it is also something users may notice. Search engines will definitely notice and potentially ding your ranking on SERPs.

When creating content, it’s best to put in the time and effort to double check your work and to plan news, blogs, and other content that is actually fresh information.

Cause and Effect of Cannibalization

Cannibalization of site content usually occurs when two pages on a single website publish the same or very similar information. If you had a brand with one page of your site dedicated to water damage cleanup in New York and another page for water damage cleanup in Chicago but both had the same content other than changing out the name of the city… you might have a cannibalization problem. The search engines see the two URLs as near duplicates, causing both to perform poorly in the long term. This is a form of classic cannibalization between unintentionally competing URLs.

Google and other search engines rank sites based on different kinds of user inquiries. There are three main kinds of user inquiries:

  1. Informational: Users looking for information with specific keywords, such as, “what is eco-friendly clothing”.
  2. Navigational: Users searching for specific websites by name, such as, “earthfashion.com” or “Earth Fashion”.
  3. Transactional: Users want to buy a product and use that product as their keyword search, such as, “where can I buy eco-friendly clothing” or simply “eco-friendly jogging suit”.

If you have an ecommerce URL on your website, such as earthfashion.com/shop in addition to a blog URL like earthfashion.com/blog, search engines will prioritize one URL over the other depending on the type of user inquiry and the search terms they use. This is good. However, if the engines can’t tell which page is more relevant to the user’s search because of indistinct URLs or duplicated page content it can hurt the ranking results of both.

With tracking software, you can chart the patterns of each URLs performance. This can provide insights into the effectiveness on the content of various pages on your site.

If you believe your website is underperforming because of the effects of website content cannibalization there are steps you can take. As an example, if you suspect old content is cannibalizing new pages, search the domain name and key phrase  (for example, “site:earthfashion.com sustainable outfit ideas”) on Google to see all the content that exists on your site pertaining to that topic. If you have old content that might cannibalize any new information you want to publish, redirect all of those old pages to your fresh URL.

For more information about self-plagiarism, cannibalization, and other problems that can impact the effectiveness of your SEO/Marketing in Minneapolis, MN, or to learn more about our SEO and marketing services, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490 or sales@mltgroup.com today.

Digital Marketing: SEO for Beginners

If your company or brand has an online presence, it’s likely you’ve heard recommendations to improve your search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a board term for a lot of different strategies and techniques for making it clear to the search engines that a site is a good resource and therefore worth ranking highly in search results. Done right, SEO will increase your website’s chances of showing up in organic search engine results. These are the sites recommended by the search engine, rather than the paid results. Each search engine uses a different algorithm to filter the list of results when a user enters a certain keyword, location, or phrase. The goal of the algorithm is to provide the best search results. By implementing various SEO tools, techniques, and strategies you can increase the chances that your site will appear in top results. MLT Group provides expert services for digital marketing, content creation, and organic, white hat, SEO.

While the help of a digital marketing and SEO provider will likely be the most effective way to increase your audience, grow your brand, and improve your user interactions, there are many ways to improve your own SEO. To start your understanding of SEO, it’s important to differentiate between good and bad practices.

White Hat vs. Black Hat

Practices for SEO are often labeled either “white hat” and “black hat.” SEO techniques that are white hat are the ones you should utilize. These good SEO practices follow search engine rules and are implemented to help users and bring better value to search results. Black hat SEO, on the other hand, attempts to trick search engines, spam results, and manipulate users. These practices can be effective in increasing site traffic, but if you get caught, your website will be penalized. Penalized sites are often removed from any search results or blacklisted in other ways. Black hat SEO is also widely considered unethical business behavior.

Basic Principles

Each search engine has a set of principles on which they base their search result algorithms. Not only do search engines want to help websites that use white hat SEO practices, they also often offer SEO guidance and tools to increase your own abilities. For example, Google has a helpful community search console, analytics that can track traffic, and many other products available to website owners, largely free of charge.

The algorithms change over time and vary between search engines, but for the most part, they will include the following for site owners to follow:

  1. build your website for users and not for search engines
  2. don’t trick or lie to users or search engines
  3. use white hat SEO
  4. create a website that is valuable and unique (don’t duplicate content)
  5. build your website to be clear, accessible, and relevant
  6. incorporate social media platforms
  7. build a fast-loading website
  8. avoid automatically-generated content
  9. don’t hide text or links
  10. do not cloak your website so search engines see different content than users
  11. do not duplicate your own content
  12. don’t overfill or “stuff” keywords into your content
  13. have short, descriptive URLs that include relevant keywords
  14. do not have non-character letters in your URL
  15. insure that title tags, description tags, H1s and H2s include relevant keywords/keyphrases
  16. add relevant original content to your site regularly
  17. encourage related sites to link back to your site

There are many other SEO techniques and practices that you can utilize to make your site more attractive to search engines, but these general rules can get you started. It’s a good idea to thoroughly read the fine print of Google’s guidelines as well. Google is by far the search engine that will impact your SEO tactics the most.

How Search Engines Work

There are three steps to how search engines work to find and sort search results. They use site crawling to analyze content on the internet, looking over the code and content of each website. Crawling bots examine keywords, the date content was published, URLs, duplications, and much more to determine which sites best fit a user search. This determination process is a part of their indexing.

When search engines index pages, they are organizing, categorizing, and storing all the information gathered. Indexed content is then available for search engines to rank when a query is made. Ranking is triggered with a search, and the engine will provide results in an order that answers the query according to their algorithm. With SEO, you are providing information to crawling bots that can change how your site is indexed and ranked.

There are ways to see how much of your content is indexed in a search engine. With Google, if you enter into the search bar “site:yoursite,” Google will tell you the number of hits that come up. The social media platform of instagram.com brings up about 631 million hits. Our site, mltgroup.com, brings up 940 hits. You can also use the Google Search Console to get more accurate and specific index reports. You can measure additional SEO success with key performance indicators (KPIs).

Key Performance Indicators

There are many KPIs that sites use to measure audience demographics, site traffic patterns, conversion rates, and SEO success. Common KPIs include sales, downloads, reviews, email lists, submission on contact forms, phone calls, and more. Establishing your KPIs will depend largely on the goals of your brand and intent of your users. Is your goal as a company to sell a specific product? Do your users come to your site through a search to find a local service provider? By knowing your goals and your users’ needs, you can build a website with the right SEO and KPIs.

Local, National, or Global

Another thing your goals and user intent will determine is whether you should be using local, national, or international SEO practices. Local SEO will usually include keywords with geo-target searches. For example, a user might search for “sushi near me” or “best sushi in Minneapolis.” Building keywords tied to target locations will help you increase local SEO results. However, many businesses want to reach broader audiences, and in that case using geo-targets might actually reduce the effectiveness of your SEO. If you want to use national or international SEO, there are other ways to reach users, such as using country-targeting or language-targeting.

With local, national, or international SEO, you can help to fulfill the different intents of users. The majority of user intents are informational searches (such as, “what should I wear to a spring wedding?”), navigational searches to specific sites (such as, “Nordstrom”), or transactional searches (such as, “spring dresses on sale”). One way to determine user intent is to Google a keyword you have incorporated into your website and look at the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). You’ll see your top competitors, images, hit counts, and more information that can help you choose the best keywords and ways to improve your SEO. Google Ads also offers keyword planning services.

Pairing with SEO

SEO practices can be paired with different ad services like pay-per-click marketing, retargeting, and Google ads, as well as enhanced through social media marketing.

Digital Marketing

These basics can help you get started on an SEO and digital marketing plan. When you begin implementing your own SEO strategies, keep in mind the importance of keywords, valuable content, white hat practices, user intent, and your goals as a brand. To learn more about SEO, check out our blog for more related articles. We offer practical, informational advice and more about different kinds of SEO and content creation tactics.

To benefit from our digital marketing advice and services, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

Video Production and Why Audiovisual Content is the Most Engaging Media

Since the rapid improvement of smartphone cameras and microphones, it’s become easier than ever to create quality visual, audio, and audiovisual content. The days of heavy, expensive, and difficult to use cameras and other equipment are past. No longer are whole camera crews needed for content creation. However, those kinds of tools still have their uses in professional spaces. For film, high quality photography, best sound capture, and video production, using more than just an iPhone goes a long way. That’s where digital marketing and audiovisual production specialist services can really boost your brand and increase your audience with expert, cohesive media content creation. At MLT Group, we’ve worked to expand our video production services into a comprehensive range of capabilities. Not only do we provide audiovisual media production for training and educational videos, commercials and digital ad media, industrial videos, corporate videos, and social media/web video content, we also provide animation services at competitive rates, surveillance video enhancement, video duplication services, and aerial video with 4K drone videography and drone pilot technology.

Video Production

MLT Group video production services can provide design for audiovisual content that will captivate your audience and make your brand more engaging and memorable. With video content accessible through your website, social media platforms, and other digital marketing strategies, users will be more likely to spend time on your site, share your media, and show more overall interest in your brand.

Around 70% of marketers using multiple types of digital content report that their videos lead to the most conversions on their site. Conversion rates are the measurement of how many users take the next step on your site, from signing up for a newsletter to making a purchase. Many studies show that users retain about 95% of messages when consumed in a video format, whereas only about 10% is retained when users process the same information as text content.

Human brains naturally engage with movement and sound. Because of that, videos are the most effective content for marketing and brand awareness. If we break down why we engage so well with audiovisual content, it makes perfect sense when you take into account the following aspects of well-produced video:

Story-telling:

Videos are excellent at making even the most complex and technical information digestible in comparison with any other type of content. They’re the best storytellers because they have both visual imagery with movement and multiple kinds of auditory information. You can use a human voice, body language of people and animals, and our ability to empathize with facial expressions to convey your message quickly and extremely effectively. Videos are essentially teaching tools that help users learn in as little as a few minutes everything they need to know to take a step that will increase your conversion rates. Using videos to tell a “story” about your brand will also provide a comfortable space for users because it gives them a solid understanding of a product in a very short period of time.

Imagery:

Visuals are an important part of the storytelling aspect of audiovisual content. Imagery matters, especially in a world with thousands of references, connotations, inferences, and implications tied to even the simplest visuals. You can use imagery in a video to your advantage and create visuals that best play to your audience while retaining all the information and aesthetics of your brand. Depending on your audience, you can use nostalgic imagery, modern aesthetics, rustic imagery, family-forward settings, etc. The list of stylized imagery is never-ending. If you know your audience, you can incorporate visuals that elicit positive responses and help educate your users about your brand or product. Many websites use imagery in their videos that trigger dopamine releases, empathy, instinctual communication pathways, and other ways to prompt the interest of your users.

Music:

Along with imagery, music can be a powerful part of a video. Even if a video doesn’t obviously use a song or soundtrack, background musical threads can add a lot of depth and emotion to audiovisual content. Background musical effects can enrich a narrative, impart a professional atmosphere, make child-friendly spaces, impart lightness and fun aesthetics, and so much more. Even with simple background music, videos can build layers and nuances that audiences will engage with more readily. In addition to background music, contemporary songs, music of the past, stylized musical themes, cultural genres, and many other aspects of music that can be incorporated into audiovisual content will change the way your audience interacts with it even more.

Sound effects:

Apart from music, dialogue, narrative, and other audio components that can be worked into a video, sound effects can also be highly potent tools that help you connect with your audience and communicate information in quick and lasting ways. Sound effects include a broad range of audio, but each effect can have highly specific results when that content is used in a brand’s video. We all interact with different noises in different ways, but you can predict some effects of sounds by generalizing. For example, laughter can impart a joyous environment, dog and cat sounds might make pet owners feel empathy, emergency sirens create a sense of danger, and the sound of a crackling fireplace might make some viewers feel cozy. Sound effects could easily become the most complex part of creating audiovisual content, but they can also be some of the best ways to make a video have a natural and professional flow. Because the majority of your users live in a world where they interact with the sounds you can incorporate, there will always be referential undertones and emotional reactions.

Return on investment:

Not only do all components of audiovisual content spark the interest of our brain, release dopamine, encourage empathy, and open communication instincts, but video is known to have an excellent return on investment (ROI) as well. High quality filming, set, and production will bring awareness to your site, create a user-friendly platform, and increase conversion rates. This means any cost put into creating a video or other audiovisual content on your site will likely increase revenue and grow your audience effectively.

SEO tool:

Videos are also very productive search engine optimization (SEO) tools. Implementing good SEO systems will help search engines prioritize your site in keyword and location-based searches. Google and other search engines use ever-changing algorithms to pull websites that fit the requests of users the best. For the unforeseeable future, video content is favorable for many kinds of searches because of positive user engagement. Not only do websites with video content have more effective SEO, they also garner the largest percentage of user shares. A significant example is YouTube (a Google owned company), which has the third highest rate of shares in the US, just after Google.com and Google images.

Videos are one of the most direct ways to communicate with your audience, generate further engagement, and increase conversion rates. By far, audiovisual content is one of the quickest ways to grow your brand and still get the best return on your investment. One final, and often unexpected way, that videos can be excellent beacons of content on your site to guide users is their ability to act as “end-caps.” Videos can wrap up a significant chunk of information that your audience can then use to take their next steps on your site and continue interacting with your brand.

To learn more about MLT Group’s capabilities for comprehensive, professional video production and content creation, contact us at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

 

Core Values of Effective Web Development in Minneapolis, MN

If you’re building a brand, you need to have an online presence for long term success and audience growth. Ideally, that would include a website and social media presence on multiple platforms, as well as digital marketing and ad placement, but at the very least, your online presence should include a website. Building a website can be intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with the tools, but with the right support systems, you can put together a quality site that meets your needs and holds space in search engines. Many popular website builders available today make putting together a website easy, but to create a well-designed site that increases user engagement and accessibility for a diverse audience, it’s important to understand core values that make up good web development. At MLT Group, we specialize in SEO-based designs for websites with quality content that users will respond to positively. When you work with us to build your website, you benefit from our extensive understanding of effective web development in Minneapolis, MN and across the country.

Web Development

It doesn’t matter if you own a business, manage a nonprofit organization, or are a public figure, you will benefit from a quality website. As soon as you establish a website that operates as your own platform, you can start to grow your brand with search engine optimization, digital marketing campaigns, and more. Your website will be the central component of your digital marketing. Quality web development for your website should be guided by four core values in order to achieve the best site possible for your brand and users.

Design

You probably have something in mind for the aesthetic design of your site, but remember there are other aspects of design that are critical for making an effective website. These design aspects don’t have anything to do with the superficial “look” of your brand, but they are key in formatting a site that makes your ideal aesthetics work for you in other ways.

When you design your site, you want to make it as user-friendly as possible. First of all, this means a fast loading time is a must. A slow load time causes significant bounce-back results, meaning users immediately go back to the search results page. About 50% of users report bounce back if your site takes longer than two seconds to load. Additionally Google penalizes sites that take more than two seconds to load, negatively impacting search rankings. Make your site design load quickly by reducing cluttered code, eliminating media that slows things down, creating caches, and implementing technical SEO tactics.

If you’ve got a fast load time down, make your site user-friendly by reducing cognitive load without compromising key information. This essentially means relying on a standard of simplicity. Have a well-organized site with pages that each have information easily available. Text content should be written concisely and plainly, however word counts are important to Google and other search engines so don’t skimp on text… just be sure it reads well and is visually pleasing in the way it is displayed. For many sites, that text should also use objective language. Making use of the negative space will also help break chunks of information apart to be more easily digestible.

Another way to design a user-friendly site is by using convention without compromising your design aesthetic. There are certain conventional design standards used on the internet, and users are accustomed to those standards. Drop down menus, contact forms, tags, and having a home button in the top left corner of a page are all examples of conventions you can use to make your site easy to navigate.

When you design your site, think about how you operate as a user. Think of some of the most confusing and difficult websites you’ve come across and avoid the things that you didn’t like about them. Even some large companies with plenty of access to quality designers have been called out for their poor site designs like RiteAid (poor use of negative space and difficult to find what you need) and the Yale School of Art (confusing graphics, unreadable overlays). If you sacrifice good design for your aesthetics or if you have too much information on your page, users are less likely to enjoy interacting with your website.

SEO

Implementing search engine optimization (SEO) is how users find your site through search engines. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing use algorithms to find sites and display them in a specific order. Using SEO will increase your chance of your site ranking highly among those results.

There are many ways to implement SEO, such as including keywords in your text content, creating meta descriptions and title tags, and using geo-locations in your H1 and H2 tags. Combining all of these SEO techniques is important to a comprehensive search engine optimization of your site. On social media platforms, for example, hashtags are a basic SEO-like tool. Building SEO into your site takes work, but it’s worth it because it will exponentially increase your audience over time.

One example of effective SEO is building a blog or news page into your site and posting new content regularly. Google and other search engines favor fresh, original content in their algorithms, and you can incorporate keywords frequently and with variety in blogs. Additionally, blogs give you the opportunity to give more information to your users and increase the nuances of your brand.

MLT Group offers comprehensive SEO services for many aspects of your site, including onsite SEO, content development, link building, and search engine marketing. Incorporating SEO into your site yourself is doable, but it does take time to do the research and build the content. Getting help from a professional like MLT Group lifts the majority of SEO from your shoulders and helps you enjoy a better, more effective website.

Adaptability

You never know what device someone will use to interact with your website. Smart phones, tablets, PCs and other screens all have different dimensions and they handle code slightly differently. Because of this, it’s important that your website is adaptable to all kinds of device displays.

When you’re building your site, keep in mind it’s easier to optimize a site for mobile, tablet, and computer screens from the start, rather than after it’s been built for one type of screen. To alter your site’s designs to fit smaller screens, think about how to shrink a page down without making text and images microscopic. Make sure the page will still load quickly (you can test load times with Google’s speed tester), and ensure your content is reorganized and resized appropriately instead of having text and media jumbling on top of each other.

If possible, the ideal solution for mobile optimization is to build your site using responsive coding. Ask your website professional how this works.

Accessibility

Most brands make it their goal to cater to a diverse audience, but to do so, you need to make your website accessible to people with different abilities and needs. This includes people with hearing, vision, cognitive, and processing impairments. That poses some challenges because a website is often a fully visual resource. However there are many ways to create accessibility in your site.

MLT’s site, for example, has several installed profiles that make it possible for people with disabilities to interact with our content. Users can adjust the profile of our site to be seizure safe, have enhanced visuals, make it easier to focus on information, and eliminate potential distractions. We also have keyboard navigation and screen reading options for blind users. For even more customization of our site profiles, users can adjust content such as resizing font, letter spacing, alignment, contrast, and text colors. Click the blue circular button in the bottom left corner of our website to learn more.

Following ADA compliance guidelines for website accessibility can give you a good starting point for making your site useful for all kinds of users. Making your site accessible is not only an ethical decision, it avoids potential fines from legal action, and it gives your audience a better opinion of your brand. Making  this an important part of web development.

Design is the main component of core values for website development, and with it comes SEO use, adaptability, and accessibility. With these in mind when building your website, you’ll be on the path to establishing and improving your image, growing your audience, and making a space for your brand.

To learn more about web development in Minneapolis, MN with MLT Group, contact us at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

Why Understanding Marketing ROI is Important

For any kind of business there are many tools that can be used to calculate projections in expenses, revenue, investments, growth, and many other aspects of the bookkeeping and budgeting process. One of the most useful tools for determining marketing expenses and the return on those costs in the form of a broadened company audience and income is a “return on investment” (ROI) calculation strategy. ROI calculations can be applied to business operations outside of the marketing sphere, but because marketing costs and successes can be difficult to put on paper, an effective marketing ROI measurement system is often the best solution for building marketing budgets. When it comes to determining if your search engine optimization (SEO) or other online marketing costs are worth it, which aspects are working the most effectively, and how long expenses take to build a return, understanding how to calculate your marketing ROI is key. MLT Group offers guidance and support for businesses developing digital and social media marketing strategies. Our goal is to help you boost your ROI and implement long term, smart marketing performance indicators.

Simply put, ROI is a tool that is used to determine the profitability of a marketing expense. For example, it can be applied to see if the cost of an online advertisement is justified by the growth of your company’s customer base when new users are led to your business through that ad.

These ROI calculations can vary depending on the marketing strategy and your goals as a company, but they are all used in the same way to take the guessing out of that part of your business.

Taking Out the Guesswork

Unlike calculating profit, baseline operational costs, inventory, and other simpler parts of a company budget, it can be difficult to predict the impact of new marketing investments. Likewise, predicting which ventures are going to be the most effective and how potential customers will interact with marketing endeavors can be tricky. Because of the many factors in a marketing plan, it can involve a lot of guesswork. Implementing effective marketing ROI will significantly impact the guessing part of developing a marketing campaign.

ROI calculators measure conversion rates, traffic fluctuations, sales, followers, and overall engagement from customers and audience members and compare the revenue from all that engagement against the cost of each marketing strategy.

Because each marketing strategy can vary greatly in format and cost, it can be difficult to build a universal ROI calculator. The most effective way to use ROI calculators to determine which marketing techniques are returning your investments is to build multiple measurement systems that can be applied to each category of digital marketing.

Some companies, for example, designate different ROI calculators for the social media aspect of marketing, Google Ads, pay-per-click ads, blogs, SEO strategies, and other types of paid advertising. Understanding the basic format of most ROI calculators will help you learn to adapt different versions to begin measuring your investment efficacy.

How to Calculate It

One of the simplest ROI calculators measures the financial gain after an investment minus the cost of that investment. Then it divides that number with the cost of the investment. If an ad costs $50 and sales worth $100 can be traced back to customers that found your company through that ad, your calculator will look like this:

(100 – 50) / 50 = 1

On paper, you would have broken even on this investment.

This calculator is very simple, but it can be applied to help you make preliminary decisions about many kinds of investments. In reality there will be other costs involved in all investments. Even when purchasing a $50 ad, there are additional costs in the time spent making graphics and communicating with ad platforms. Additionally, even if that $100 in sales can be linked to the ad, complex factors like what was purchased, who the customers are, and where they are located can alter that number.

The type of investments also matters when building an ROI calculator. Is the investment a one-time fee or a recurring cost? Will that cost increase or decrease over time? Will a higher initial cost bring more ROI in the long term and vice versa? These are just some questions to consider when you build a calculator for specific marketing investments.

Even though ROI calculators for marketing can be challenging to build because of unpredictable factors and hidden expenses, there are many tools available to help you better determine starting points, measure patterns, and overall gain better footing for your marketing strategies. Some useful tools many of our clients use to target marketing ROI include:

● Google Analytics: Especially when paired with Google Ads, Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring traffic, digital ad campaigns, and SEO quality. This software system will gather data and organize information about your online audience. You can even build your own ROI system from the information Google Analytics provides.
● CRM Software: There are several sources for CRM (customer relationship management) software, such as Hubspot and Salesforce. CRM software is designed to keep track of customer interactions and information. This information can be gathered from each of your platforms separately or together in a single report.
● Call tracking: For both digital and off-line marketing strategies, call tracking software can gather information about phone calls and conversion rates. This provides data on which of your campaigns led to phone interactions with customers that, in turn, led to a sale.

No matter how you build your ROI calculation tactics, there might be some trial and error, but an effective system will provide multiple benefits, and it’s an important part of a successful marketing department in today’s digital world.

Marketing ROI Benefits

Implementing an effective marketing ROI calculator will give you valuable information about your efforts, including:

● Which digital platforms are bringing the most traffic to your site and leading to the most conversions
● When you should spend money on a campaign versus utilizing free marketing tools
● Where you should spend money and which third parties work best for your company
● Which marketing strategies to eliminate
● Who your customer base is, including their age range, location, spending patterns, and other demographics
● How customers interact with different marketing strategies
● When and why that interaction can shift over time
● How to adapt to those shifts in customer behavior
● What tools work best for your brand and company

In addition to advertising, SEO tools, and marketing overall, your ROI calculations can be used to build your company in other ways. It may give you information that will guide you in rebuilding your website, generating graphics and media, hiring new employees, increasing the diversity of your products, improving your business’s accessibility, expanding to a global audience, consolidating debt, and much more.

In many ways, ROI calculations for your marketing strategies are not just an important part of building your brand and saving money, they are often a vital aspect of being able to adapt to the rapidly changing conditions of the digital and physical consumer world.

To learn more about marketing ROI and how you can integrate it into your digital and social media marketing strategies with the help of MLT Group, contact us at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.