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

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

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

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

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

1. They Overlap:

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

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

2. Gain Backlinks:

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

3. Maintain Consistency:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

How Does Website Load Speed Impact Search Engine Rankings

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

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

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

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

1. Sub-standard (cheap) web hosting.

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

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

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

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

6. Too many file requests.

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

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

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

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

Understanding the Benefits and Drawbacks of Template vs. Custom Websites

Should you still choose a custom website in 2018?’

After all, there are many alternatives available to you.

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

template website

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

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

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

Spoiler alert – our company provides custom web design services.

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

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

Custom Websites By MLT Group

custom website example

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

The custom features on their website include:

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

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

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

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

custom website features

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

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

Template Websites

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

Let’s start with the pros.

Take Less Time to Launch

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

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

Cost Less

Generally, template websites are less expensive than custom websites.

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

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

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

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

Options

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

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

custom vs template website

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

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

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

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

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

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

Customization

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

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

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

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

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

Oversight

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

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

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

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

Security

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

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

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

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

Duplication

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

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

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

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

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

Content Creation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Custom Websites

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

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

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




 

Now let’s start with the pros. 

Design & Branding

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

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

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

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

Scalability

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

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

Unique Look

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

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

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

Full-Service Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cost

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

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

Time to Launch

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

Conclusion

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

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




Need a Minneapolis SEO Expert? Look No Further

Do you need a Minneapolis SEO expert for your business?

In this post, we’ll explain why and how working with a Minneapolis digital marketing agency for SEO services can help you grow your business.

You’ll see how we help our clients get found online, share our exact tactics, and help you make an informed decision on whether or not you should work with an agency.

Search Optimization (SEO) Defined

We’re not going to start with the technical definition of SEO. Why? Because the most important definition of SEO is the benefit it provides for your business.

Above all else, SEO is a tool to grow your business. 

When you put your business in front of people who are interested in your product or services, you’ll get more engagement, leads, and sales. It makes sense, right? Think of your behavior on Google. You use it constantly and it often leads to purchasing decisions.

You look something up, find the result that seems to match what you want (usually in the top three results), then you visit the page to see if the information is a right fit.

Sometimes it is. And sometimes it isn’t.

Maybe the site you visit loads too slowly and you don’t want to wait.

Perhaps the site looks unappealing and unprofessional so you don’t trust the business.

Maybe you land on the website and can’t find the information you’re looking for.

Now, think about a search result that does meet your standards. The site probably loads quickly, has a professional design with interesting media, and gets you the exact information you need.

A Minneapolis SEO expert looks at SEO services from every angle — not just the technical stuff — and focuses on the end result first.

It’s easy to throw around jargon like rankings, traffic, and conversions. It’s harder (but more beneficial) to understand the goals and target audience of your Minneapolis business then craft an SEO strategy around their needs.

At MLT Group, this is exactly how we perform SEO.

How Can You Tell You’re Working With a Minneapolis SEO Expert?

Here’s your first clue…

You found us by Googling “Minneapolis SEO expert” or something similar. As the famous saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.”

Seriously though, we understand your concerns when it comes to SEO services.

You might know a little bit about SEO services, but you’re not an expert. You need to be able to understand the services you’re getting and how they benefit you. There are a lot of Minneapolis SEOs out there, meaning that some will be better than others. How will you know which one to choose?

A good digital marketing agency can easily describe it services and help you understand the process from start to finish.

Continue reading, decide if we’ve done that or not, and you’ll know the answer.

The Exact Breakdown of the SEO Services We Provide

There are many factors that determine where your website appears on Google. Some experts say there are up to 200!

Let’s break down the main factors that affect your site’s ranking on Google and discuss how our services can help.

SEO Research

Research is the first step to a successful SEO campaign.

You need to know what people are searching for online. You need to know which key phrases — terms people type into Google — drive the most traffic.

After compiling data, you have to decide which key phrases work best for your business based on a number of factors:

  • Relevance– A key phrase with high monthly traffic but low relevance — meaning it doesn’t describe your business well —  won’t work for your business
  • Competition – Based on the authority of your site, you must determine which phrases make sense to target at different stages of your campaign
  • Intent – Different key phrases have different intent and represent different stages of awareness, e.g., “shoes for sale” and “price for red Nike Air Jordans size 12”

At MLT Group, we use the following techniques and tools to find the right key phrases for your business.

We Talk to You

It’s a mistake to jump in and start working on your SEO campaign without understanding your business first. Before we begin any research, we’ll sit down with you to discuss the aspects of your business that will dictate the type of campaign we create.

We’ll ask you questions like:

  • What are the goals for your business in the next 6-12 months?
  • What marketing techniques have you tried before and how did they work?
  • Who are your customers? What are their demographics? How do you acquire them? What makes them tick? Where do they hangout online?
  • Who are your main competitors?
  • What’s the geographic service area for your business? (This is key for Local SEO)
  • What are your services and how do you prioritize them?
  • What does a successful campaign look like to you?

And much more.

Knowing these key details helps us achieve the stated goal above – using SEO services as a tool to grow your business. These details are much more important than metrics.

This process begins before you decide to work with us, too.

We provide a free site audit that tells you everything you need to know about your websites SEO performance, we’ll talk to you about your business, then we’ll see if our services are a good fit for both of us. 

We’re in business to make revenue, of course, but it matters much more to us to first find out if and how we can help you. We don’t use pressure tactics because we’re genuinely curious about you and your company first and foremost.

Sound good? If so, go ahead and fill out this form right now and we’ll start the free audit process right away:




 

Competitor Research

Did you know there are tools that tell you exactly what key phrases your competition ranks for, how much traffic they receive, and the links pointing to their website?

With the help of tools like Ahrefs and Moz, we can discover all the above. Once we compile the data, we can create a strategy to emulate what they’re doing well and find the opportunities they missed.

This will help you rank above your competition. b gyg

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Keyword Research

Competitor research is one facet of the key word research we perform.

What is key word research? It’s the brainstorming process of finding which words people use to search for your product or service online.

We use tools and techniques to decide what content to create, in what order we should create it, and the exact steps required to make website pages that Google loves.

When you work with us, you’ll get an easy to understand report that gives you the ‘why’ behind our strategy and allows you to make informed decisions when you weight in on the campaign.

Implementation

After we create your SEO strategy, we’ll use the following techniques to help rank your business on Google.

On Site Search Engine Optimization

Google uses an algorithm — a fancy math equation — that programs ‘crawlers’ (think robots) to index information across the web and decide which pages to rank above others based on a number of factors.

The higher you rank, the more people view and visit your website.

While smart, the bots can’t quite decipher content at a human’s level (although they continue to get closer), so they use certain identifiers to understand the sites they visit.

Let’s walk through each section of a perfectly optimized web page.

Content

It’s been said many times before — content is king. First and foremost, you want your site content to be useful and deliver the type of information the user expects.

Back in the day, you could get away with adding lots of keywords to your content, regardless of how well they fit or how useful the page was. Not anymore. Thanks to the Penguin update, sites that rank on Google must have content that meets the users needs.

We take our research and use it to create content both readers and search engines love.

When creating content for your site, we use these key techniques:

  • Add your key phrase early in the content (first page or paragraph)
  • Use your key phrase a few times in the content (but don’t overdo it)
  • Add related key words to give more context to the crawlers
  • If your business targets a geographic location, we make sure to mention it in your content and tags (good for Local SEO)

We provide as much depth as needed, add useful content like media when it applies, and focus on providing a great user experience.

This is important. Too often, SEOs will create content just for search engines. This makes for robotic writing that doesn’t provide value for the reader. Out of any strategy we use, writing for your readers first is the number one strategy.

Google keeps a tight lock and key on their algorithm and smart marketers have to make educated guesses about what works. When Google does state something officially, though, you must take it into account.

Look at Google’s main recommendation — straight from the horse’s mouth —  here:

Google SEO Recommendations

Next, consider the way we’re talking to you right now.

Does it sound like a sales pitch?

Is it using a bunch of unnecessary jargon and metrics that confuse you?

No to both. As best we can, we’re explaining our services in-depth, helping you make a smart decision, and talking to you like a regular human being. 

That’s all you need to do to create great SEO content and that’s what we’ll help you do if you work with us.

At MLT Group, we have a staff of dozens of writers with experience in many niches. We’ll work with you to create SEO content that reflects your business and makes visitors want to engage and ultimately buy.

Title Tag

Each page on your website has a space in the code to enter a tag that tells the crawlers what your page is about. You’re only allowed a certain number of characters per tag, so it’s important to put the right key phrases in the tag.

Here’s an example of a Title Tag as it appears on a search engine results page (SERP) that appears after you search something on Google:

title tag

Meta Description

Your meta description also shows up on the SERP and it’s a key factor in optimizing your page, but not for the reason you’d think.

Example:

There’s a persistent SEO myth that Google takes the keywords you use in your meta description into account as a ranking factor. It doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean your description isn’t important.

This is where SEO with business strategy in mind comes into play.

Your meta description should be treated like an irresistible advertisement for your business that gets people to click through to your website.

QuickSprout has a great guide on writing metas if you’re interested.

Some highlights are:

  • Add special offers (if you have any) to your description
  • Study the descriptions of paid ads (these appear at the top of SERPS and will have an [ad] tag next to them). Why do this? People who spend money on ads are going to take the time to make sure they’re compelling.
  • Create a strong call to action (CTA) to entice them to click through, e.g., “get your free no-obligation website audit today “

Metas are important for two reasons.

First, of course, you want people who find your site on Google to click through to it.

Second, Google uses click through as a ranking factor to decide the order in which pages appear.

They do this because Google is interested in providing the best results for users.

Here’s a good example to illustrate:

Let’s say the number two result has a more compelling description — meaning more people are clicking through — than the top result.

Why continue to display the top result at the top if user behavior shows people like the number two result more? It makes sense to switch them.

Thanks to one of Google’s recent updates, Rank Brain, this is exactly what’s happening.

An aside on Google’s continued updates: while industry standard techniques still work great for SEO, Google is trending towards serving up the best content.

This means your business can compete with more — technically — authoritative websites if you create the most compelling content possible.

A smart agency goes above the standard techniques alone and focuses on every aspect of promoting a business.

That provides an added benefit, too. Being persuasive, compelling, and informative isn’t just good for SEO, it’s good for business period.

Alt Tag

Alt tags are pieces of code that describe images.

The site crawlers can’t look at an image, per se, so they need a little help. Your alt tag provides a spot to tell the crawler what the photo is about, which gives you additional SEO credit.

SEO Headings

Using the right keywords in your headings helps the crawlers know more about your page. The more the crawler knows about the page, the more likely it is to rank it.

Headings also help organize information and keeps pages from looking boring and tedious from having large blocks of text.

Good headings provide an SEO benefit in another way, too. Google tracks how long people stay on your website. They figure if people stay on your site for a while, you must have great information.

It also tracks ‘bounces’ which means people visit your site and click back out of it immediately.

Which type of page is likely to keep you reading longer — one with organized headings that help you find the information you need or a giant wall of text that looks like it will take a ton of effort to understand?

Internal Links

On each page of your site, you want to link to other relevant and related pages on your website. This sentence is an example of an internal link.

Linking to other pages on your site is important. When a crawler visits your site, it uses links to find more relevant pages.

Done right, your link structure will allow the crawlers to index important pages on your site.

Done incorrectly, and the crawlers might miss important information on your site, fail to index it, which means those pages won’t rank on Google.

Page URL

Your page url is the link that shows up in your web browser:

seo url

The url for this blog post is – https://www.mltgroup.com/blog/minneapolis-seo-expert

This link has good structure for SEO because:

  • It uses the target keyword we are trying to rank the page for
  • It tells the user what the page is about (this is important because it appears on the SERP as well)
  • It’s concise – long URLs that don’t describe the topic are bad for SEO

When creating URLs for our client’s site, we keep these items in mind, e.g., creating a link like http://multisourcemfg.com/services/cnc-machining/ (this is a term people in the target audience understand.

Additional On-Site Optimization Techniques

These items are also key for creating an optimized page:

  • Optimize for loading speed — Google doesn’t like to rank slow loading pages
  • Save image files under names with key phrases, e.g., Minneapolis SEO Expert.jpg — This aids the alt tag
  • Build responsive web pages — Your website must be optimized for mobile devices, tablets, and various screen sizes
  • Add media – video, photos, infographics, social media sharing buttons, etc create a more engaging user experience and boosts dwell time, which is a ranking factor

Now that we’ve covered the core initial steps of an SEO campaign, let’s talk about the other techniques you need to use to improve your site’s performance.

Off-Site Strategies

Once the on-site techniques are completed, off-site techniques are used to help your site meet the right search engine standards to rank highly.

We provide these strategies as part of our SEO services on a recurring basis to help your campaign evolve over time.

Links and Link Building

Long story short, when the founders first created Google, they realized links were a great way to prioritize and organize information on the web.

Think about what it means to link to another web page.

It means you want other people to visit that page or reference it. If you want other people to visit the page, the page must have important and useful information.

To this day, the number and quality of links pointing to a page on your website is one of the top factors that determine where your site appears on Google.

Each time a website links to yours, it’s like a ‘vote’ telling the search engines your site is worth visiting.

This is where link building comes in.

We help you get more links to your website to give your site more authority.

We achieve this in a few ways.

Create Content Assets

If you create great content, people will naturally want to link to it and use it as a resource. As we’ll explain below, there’s leg-work that goes into finding sites that want to link to you.

Before that, though, you must make sure the pages on your site are worth linking to.

We use the techniques we described above to make pages worth visiting, thus worth linking to.

Directories

Buying links from spammy site directories no longer works.

You can, however, get good links from finding quality directories.

What makes a directory quality:

  • Manual review – A good directory has people who will actually look at your page to determine if it’s worth linking to. Spammy ‘pay to play’ directories don’t have these quality controls.
  • Relevance – A spammy directory will often feature your business next to something completely unrelated like a gambling website. Good directories are either industry based, e.g. a trucking company association, or location-based, e.g. a local chamber of commerce

We find directories that feature businesses from your industry. We submit your site for consideration, they review the quality of your site and post the link if it meets their standards.

Outreach

Often, there are related sites who would link to you if they knew who you were and you had content worth sharing.

We offer outreach services to gain links to the content we create for you.

How does this work? We will reach out to other related businesses on your behalf and send them a pitch on why your content is worthing linking to and how linking to it will benefit their site.

For example, we may share an informative article on fire damage restoration with an insurance company. This gives them a useful and relevant resource their clients might need.

The benefit for them is that they don’t have to spend time creating content themselves.

Our outreach process might include other strategies like reaching out to journalists looking for an expert’s opinion about your industry or offering to create a guest blog post for a related business in exchange for a link.

Linked gained through outreach are the highest quality because they take real effort and relationship building to get.

If you decide to work with us, you’ll receive a report showing you exactly how many backlinks your site is getting with details on how they’ve affected your site’s performance.

Online Identity

If your business has been around for a while, information about it will start to populate the web.

Some directories will create pages for your company without asking you.

Actually, this happens often.

Here’s where this can turn into a problem.

Information about your business will change over time. You might move locations, change your phone number, change your hours, change your website’s URL, create & delete social media profiles, etc.

If these changes aren’t monitored, you can have inconsistent information displaying online, which has a negative impact on your SEO.

This is especially important for Local SEO because the search engines track the consistency and uniformity of your business information online. Mainly, the name, address, and phone number of your business (NAP).

Again take Google’s thought process into account. If your NAP information is inconsistent, why would Google want to rank your website?

This would confuse searchers, which is the opposite of what the search engines want.

Also, consider the impacts an inconsistent profile has on your business.

How does your brand look if someone searches for your business online, calls the provided phone number, and gets a disconnected message?

They’re probably not going to keep digging to find the right information. They will look for another company.

In addition to hurting your brand reputation, an inconsistent profile will literally cause you to miss out on potential sales. No good.

Here’s how our online identity services work and why they’ll benefit your business.

Profile Tracking

We will add your correct NAP into major businesses directory aggregators like Localeze and FourSquare.

These larger directories populate information on smaller directories, helping you create a consistent profile across the web.

We also monitor the overall health score of your online identity profile and make sure to find unclaimed listings, duplicate profiles, and listings with the wrong information.

Citation Building

Remember when we told you links back to your website count as a “vote” for the quality of your business and its content?

There’s another type of “vote” we help you build called a citation.

You earn a citation anytime your business is mentioned online, regardless of whether or not it’s in the form of a link (although certain citations provide links).

Citations can come in the form of social media mentions, reviews, and listings on directories (although the large aggregators find directories and build citations, there are always more to find and claim).

We help you build citations for your business by reaching out to relevant areas online and promoting your business to earn these important relevance signals.

Citation building is also the cornerstone of a solid local SEO strategy.

These citations help you show up in the ‘map pack’ which are those prominent map-based listings you often see on the SERP (example below):

Citation building and link building creates a potent combination to help rank your business online.

Technical SEO

We won’t dive into a ton of details here because technical SEO can be very complicated.

Here’s the short version.

Your site performance affects your SEO. A site with performance issues will hamper an SEO campaign even if you do everything else right.

If you work with us, we’ll monitor your site for factors including but not limited to:

  • Broken links – Broken links — links that point to an expired page — hurt your user experience, which hurts your SEO. We have tools to check and fix those links.
  • Redirects – Anytime you remove a page from your site or change the URL, you must redirect the old URL to a new one because if you don’t, your page will show an error message called a 404
  • Loading speed – The way you add images and media to your pages, structure the code, and develop a site architecture can all impact how fast your site loads. We work to keep your websites loading as quickly as possible.

Simple Reporting to Help You Understand Your SEO Campaign Performance

SEO can get confusing … fast.

This is why we try to share the performance of your campaign in the simplest way possible.

We do this because we know you don’t have time to become an SEO expert. You need to work on your business.

We also know that, although many factors and metrics contribute to SEO, you want to understand a few key things about your campaign and you want to know that it’s working.

Our reports include easy to understand information like:

  • How many people are visiting your site through Google and whether that number is increasing or decreasing over time and by how much?
  • How many leads you receive directly from Google searches, e.g., phone calls and contact form submissions
  • Where your website is ranking for important key terms related to your business

Simple reporting helps you understand if our campaign is helping you reach your business goals, which is the only real metric that matters.

You’ll receive automated messages each month and a more in-depth report for each quarter.

After you receive your quarterly report, we’ll schedule a phone or in person, meeting to review it, help you understand it, and answer your questions.

Conclusion

While in-depth, this guide shares exactly what we do, how we do it, and why our services will benefit your business.

Why pull back the curtain and show you our techniques? Because we believe transparency is vital.

You need to be able to understand our services.

You need to work with a company you can trust, not because we say we’re trustworthy, but because we plainly and simply show you how trustworthy we are.

We love helping business owners because we’re passionate businesses owners ourselves. 

SEO is one of the best marketing techniques you can use for your business and educating our clients while helping them not only builds stronger businesses, but stronger business owners too.

Your business is successful because you’re in expert in your field. That’s why you went looking for another expert to help you with your online marketing.

Meet with us and you won’t have to wonder if we’re Minneapolis SEO experts, we’ll demonstrate it for you in a way that’s undeniable.

That’s a bold claim, but we’re a bold company who stands behind our work. Connect with us and you’ll see.

You’re at the end of a 4,000 + word guide because you’re interested and curious.

Here’s what you do next. Fill out this form below, receive a free audit in the next 48 hours, and see the expertise for yourself.

See you on the other side. We can’t wait to connect with you.

Creative Small Business Video Production Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

You know what’s great about running a small business? You’re the boss! What’s not so great? You’re probably working on a smaller budget than your competitors. That doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the same marketing techniques bigger businesses use. Take video production for example. While a TV commercial may be a big financial commitment, there are plenty of other ways you can take advantage of video production that are just as effective.

Why Small Business Video Production is Important

 

Why should make room in the budget for video production? Visual media garners more attention, gets more shares on social media, and is more engaging than text or print media. You also get a lot of bang for your buck; videos can be shared on different outlets like social media and your website and reused over time.

 

Although many businesses do well with online or print marketing, if you can take your marketing to the next level, reach new audiences, and create an engaging message by incorporating small business video production into your strategy, why wouldn’t you?

 

Different Types of Videos that Won’t Break the Bank

 

When you think of video marketing, you probably imagine a costly TV commercial, but there are different types of videos that you can incorporate into your marketing strategy that won’t break the bank.

 

Welcome Videos:

Whether you’re a new business or promoting a new product or service, introduce yourself to potential customers. Make sure to include the name of your business within the video, along with contact information and a brief description of your services. Including a welcome video on your home page is a great way to quickly engage and introduce visitors to your business. They are also great for establishing your brand or story. They don’t have to be complicated or elaborate to be effective.

 

Aerial Videos:

There may have been a time when aerial videography was out of reach for everyone except big budget studios, but those days are long gone; even small businesses can use aerial videos in their marketing. Aerial videography can be used for almost anything! It’s great for showing off large facilities, exhibiting beautiful landscapes, capturing event footage, and so much more! Using drones for aerial videography makes it more affordable than ever. Just make sure you’re working with a licensed drone operator!

 

Tour Videos:

Want to welcome visitors to your business before they even step inside? Consider a tour video! Whether you’ve moved, remodeled, or you’re a brand-new business, creating a tour video of your building is a great way to introduce viewers to your business, show off your space, and get them excited for a visit! Get your team involved too; introduce your staff members in their workspaces in the video. This gives your video a personal touch and helps to begin forming a relationship with viewers.

 

Internet Commercial:

While air time is expensive, you can still create a high-quality commercial without the budget busting price tag. Instead of creating a commercial for television, create one to be shared online! Publishing videos online is free and there are plenty of outlets on which to share them, allowing you to get more mileage out of your video.

 

Event Videos:

Do you own a venue that hosts events? If you’re not advertising that with event videos, you’re missing out. Special events such as weddings, festivals, and concerts offer plenty of visual opportunities that can make for a stunning video. You can even incorporate aerial videography to get shots of large crowds.

The Only Limit to Small Business Video Production is Your Imagination

 

Have a unique idea for your marketing video? We can help! MLT Group has been providing small business video production for over 30 years and we’d love to help you with your project. Whether you need a licensed drone operator or post production help, we’ve got you covered. If you can imagine it, we can make it happen.

 

For all of your small business video production needs, contact us at 507.281.3490 or sales@mltgroup.com and get your free quote today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-Commerce Marketing Strategies: The Ultimate Guide

E-commerce marketing can do wonders for your business. With the right strategies, you can engage people who are interested in your products, build a base of loyal customers, and grow your influence to reach every corner of your market.

In today’s post, we’re going to teach you different e-commerce marketing strategies ranging from SEO tips, content marketing, social media marketing and more.

If you use just one of these strategies, you’ll see results that can help you grow your brand and your bottom line. Before we dive into the tips, let’s talk about the unique power of e-commerce businesses.

Why E-Commerce Businesses Are The Future

The internet has changed the way people buy and the benefits of e-commerce businesses are impossible to deny.

Here is a short list of benefits e-commerce businesses provide their users:

  • Convenience – You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to purchase from an e-commerce store
  • Speed – Most e-commerce businesses offer fast shipping. Just look at Amazon, who’s gone so far as to test ’30 minute drone deliveries’
  • Options – When shopping online, you can hand pick the products you want without ever having to visit a store and you can compare prices between different businesses without having to visit them

There are numbers to shed light on the shift in markets too:

e-commerce marketing statistics

 

It’s unlikely that retail will disappear, but it’s obvious the internet is here to stay.

If you’re an e-commerce business owner, providing a great user experience and solid marketing strategies allows you to reach a larger audience than you ever could with a physical location.

As an e-commerce business owner, you’re already sold on the power of the internet. For those who have the potential to move into e-commerce, but haven’t yet, consider how you can market and sell your products online to keep pace with the changing trends for the future.

Now, it’s time for the strategies.

SEO E-Commerce Marketing Strategies

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps put your business in front of people with search intent — meaning those who are actively searching for your product.

SEO works well for e-commerce businesses who do it right. Just take a look at this search engine results page for the phrase “green tea for sale.”

Each page that appears in this picture represents an organic search result. Organic means the businesses achieved these results without using paid advertisements. That’s the beauty of SEO — you can achieve results through effort and sound strategies alone.

These e-commerce SEO strategies will help you rank your business on Google and put it in front of buyers looking for your product.

Here are the e-commerce SEO strategies you must use to succeed.

Optimize All Site Pages

The most important pages on an e-commerce website are it’s category pages, product pages, and blog poss.

You want to optimize your pages using the following techniques:

  • Use key phrases in your page titles
  • Use key phrases  in your meta description
  • Place key phrases in your content
  • Optimize images by placing key phrases in their ‘alt tags’
  • Make sure your content length meets SEO standards
  • Add media to your pages like pictures, infographics, and videos

Here’s a great example of an optimized e-commerce website.

Cup & Leafs E-Commerce Product Page SEO Analyzed

The Cup & Leaf blog sells tea products. When you visit one of their product pages you’ll see organized information that also serves an SEO purpose.

Most product pages use the product name in the title. In this example, you’ll see an optimized key phrase as the product title:

When you scroll down, you’ll see a product description that’s optimized but also very informative and persuasive to customers (key phrase highlighted in red):

e commerce product description

 

 

The content is in-depth, but not overwhelming. It uses key phrases but doesn’t stuff them in the content. It’s informative, describes benefits, and cites reputable sources.

It takes time, but providing on page SEO to each of your products will help them rank on search engines.

Cup & Leafs SEO Content Analyzed

The Cup & leaf blog uses content marketing and SEO through their blog. When you look at their blog page, you’ll see posts with titles that match topics tea lovers might type into Google:

e-commerce blog example

Each blog post has optimized content, but also provides useful and relevant information for readers. This is key because content marketing and SEO are more about making users happy than search engines. Typical optimization doesn’t work anymore. The search engines are ranking content that’s useful for readers. It’s now their number one priority:

e commerce content marketing

Notice the techniques used here:

  • Optimized page title
  • Key phrase in the first sentence of the content
  • Internal & outbound links
  • In-depth content

Imagine you’re a tea lover who searches for tips on making great tea. You land on this page and read articles giving you the exact information you’re looking for. Then, when you read the post, it ends with a call to action to check out the company’s products.

This is exactly what Cup & Leaf does.

At the end of one of their posts, you see a call to action to buy their products at a discount:

e commerce call to action

The owner of the company — content marketing expert Nat Elision — shares the entire SEO & content strategy he used to start the company in this guide.

Highlights from the post:

Research topics – using tools like ahrefs, the Google keyword planner, and more, you can perform keyword research to find topics with traffic volume.

Design the blog to drive sales – each post has a call to action to enjoy a discount or try related products

Gain product reviews – this increases social proof and is a positive ranking factor for SEO

Write long-form content – long-form content is a positive ranking factor.

With a sound SEO strategy employed, you can use more e-commerce marketing techniques to build awareness for your company and ultimately drive leads and sales.

Use the Following E-Commerce Content Marketing Strategies

Content marketing works especially well for e-commerce businesses. To have an effective content marketing campaign, you need to understand the full breadth of the phrase.

Check out this definition of content marketing from the content marketing institute:

Content comes in many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Written content – pages and blog posts
  • Video
  • Photos & infographics
  • Social media

Let’s walk through examples of different types of content marketing and discuss what they do well.

Written Content

We discussed SEO and content marketing for e-commerce businesses already, but it’s important to know the details of running a successful content marketing campaign. Here are some need to know items.

Research

When you do the right research, you can create a strategy that targets the right customers and creates the types of content they want to read.

You can use keyword research — a staple of SEO — to discover topics people are actively searching for.

Check out our guide to keyword research for more detail.

You can also research what your competitors are doing well to create better content and use strategies like link-building to leapfrog them in search.

Here’s an example. Using the Ahrefs tool, you can discover a lot of useful information about a competitor. Sticking with our tea example, I found a tea company and looked for search data:

In the organic keywords section of the tool, you can see the keywords that get the most traffic and links to the pages receiving the traffic:

competitor seo research

Then going into the individual pages, you can see where they’re gaining links from, as well as important metrics to know like site authority, the number of backlinks, and the phrases the single page ranks for:

seo data

Using the ahrefs keyword analyzer tool, I can estimate the number of links I need to build to the page:

key word analysis

Next, I’d create a piece of content about chai tea lattes and make it more detailed entertaining and informative than the competitor’s post.

Then, I’d build links to the page by sharing the content with people who are likely to link back to the page. This is known as the skyscraper technique.

You can also leverage reviews to discover what your customers like and dislike about your type of product. Check out this review on Amazon for a green tea product:

e commerce product review

Using these insights, I make create content discussing both the quality and cost-effectiveness of my product.

Question and answer sites like Quora provide useful information as well. I typed in “chai tea” on Quora and got the result:

quora research

Knowing people want to know the difference between masala and chai tea, I could create content on this topic. My result may even show up in a cool Google snippet like this one:

google snippet

Implementation

Once you have solid e-commerce marketing research you can implement your campaign.

It’s important to know your target audience, goals, and key performance metrics before you begin creating content.

You also want to create a content calendar with topics you want to write about and block out time to create content.

If you’re an e-commerce business owner, you might not have time to create the content yourself. This is where a digital marketing agency can come in handy.

At MLT Group we have the staff, resources, and creativity to create a content marketing campaign for your business.

If you’re interested in a done for you e-commerce marketing strategy, fill out the form below for a free audit:




 

Video content marketing has grown in popularity in recent years.

Here’s some data on video per Hubspot:

  • 97% of marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service
  • 76% say it helped them increase sales
  • 76% say it helped them increase traffic.

If you leverage video the right way, it can do wonders for your business.

In a perfect example, Dollar shave club used viral video to grow their business:

In our breakdown of their marketing strategy, we highlighted the following reasons why their campaign worked so well:

  • Hook your audience
  • Keep your brand consistent
  • Know your audience
  • Have a clear message
  • Don’t get lost in your own video

Pay attention to how they used humor, shock value, and intrigue to make a boring product suddenly interesting.

In addition to branding power, video content marketing can help your business rank on search engines. 

Photos & Infographics

Visual content has multiple benefits.

First, it’s a different form of branding and marketing people love.

Second, you can use them to increase important SEO metrics like time spent on page and reducing your bounce rate.

An example from Gadget Snob shows great use of photos on an e-commerce landing page:

 

When you click into one of their products, you see excellent use of captivating photos in their “related products” section:

 

This clean and crisp site design and photo usage compel visitors to check out the site’s products.

You can also use infographics within the body of your blog posts to keep readers engaged (pro tip: use a plugin to make your images pinnable on Pinterest).

Social Media

You can write an entire guide on social media usage for e-commerce marketing.

 

Shopify has an excellent breakdown of social media tips on their infographic:

e commerce social media

 

You can use social media to market your e-commerce business in a variety of ways.

You can create streaming videos and commercials educating users about your product, sharing benefits, and entertaining them.

When you create a new blog post, you can cross-promote your content through all social media channel.

You can become a member of social media groups related to your niche and become an active participant.

Paid social media ads are always a cost-effective way to build your e-commerce brand and drive traffic to your website.

Here’s an example of a product display ad on Facebook:

product display ad

When running Facebook ads as part of the e-commerce marketing strategy for your business, you can use a ton of different techniques to drive traffic to your website:

  • Run promotions and discounts
  • Create a giveaway of your product where users enter their email address as a ‘raffle ticket’
  • Put commercials and videos in your ads
  • Create remarketing ads that display to visitors who visited your site but didn’t buy
  • Create a lookalike audience based on metrics and demographics of your target audience
  • Use ‘boosts’ to drive traffic to your blog posts to aid your content marketing efforts
  • Cross promote your Facebook ads to Instagram

Social media has many applications. Whatever channel or method you use, make sure to make social media a core part of your e-commerce marketing strategy.

Conclusion

These e-commerce marketing strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to growing your business.

Choose one, or a few, and utilize them to gain traffic, leads, and sales.

Use them to build your brand and stand out in your industry.

If you’re looking for expert content marketing and SEO help, learn more about becoming a strategic business partner with MLT Group.

Need Video Marketing? Learn the 4 Ws of Video Production

Including video elements in your marketing campaign is a great way to get attention, engage your audience, and showcase what your business offers! However, tackling something like video production can be intimidating to the uninitiated. So much goes into video production, including budget, camera-work, script writing, music, and post-production work, and it can be difficult to know where to start? We’re here to help. Before you get started with your video marketing campaign, first ask yourself four important questions: who, what, when, and where?

video production

Who:

There are two important “who” questions to ask throughout the video production process:

Who is your target audience? Your audience affects every element of your video marketing from the message to where you share it. What is age, culture, socioeconomic status, or location of your audience? Some video types, outlets, and messages are more effective than others, depending on your audience. For example, if you’re trying to reach a younger, national audience, publishing your video online will be more effective than spending money on a local television commercial.

 

Who is your production team? Video production has many layers and should be handled by a dedicated team. Clearly outlining who your production team is, each person’s role, and their expectations will help the production process go smoothly. Video production is best handled by experienced professionals who can tackle every element of your video marketing.

 

What:

When it comes to video marketing, there are a few ‘whats’ to answer.

All of this will influence the content of your video, and help you develop a specific, relatable message. Whatever you’re promoting, it should support the overall marketing goals of your business. If you’re advertising a sale, promoting a specific service, or trying to expand your customer base, make sure to develop a script and message that remains focused on your specific goal instead of trying to do it all. This will ensure your message remains clear and has the most impact.

 

Where:

Where will you share your video? Are you crafting a video for online advertisements, a presentation for shareholders, or do you want to create a commercial for local television? Not all outlets are appropriate depending on the type of video you’re creating and the audience you want to reach. For example, if you want to demonstrate your product, a television commercial may not be the best outlet. Instead, post demo videos online! Understanding where your video will reach consumers impacts the style and length of the advertisement, and also influences your company’s budget.

 

When:

Create an achievable video production timeline and stick to it. With so many elements, it’s easy for a video production to get off track, especially for the inexperienced. The last thing you want is for your video to cost more time and money than it needs to. With a set schedule, your business will have an appropriate amount of time to dedicate to each point on the timeline, from script creation to filming, and concluding with the launch of your video.

 

MLT Group not only has over 30 years of video production experience, but we’re also marketing experts. This means we can craft an effective video that helps your business achieve its goals. Whether you’re looking for a simple demo video or a full-scale television commercial, we can handle every aspect of the production process.

 

Our video production services include:

  • Script writing
  • Animation
  • Music
  • Voiceovers/Voice acting
  • Editing
  • Special graphics
  • Aerial videography

 

Ready to take your marketing campaign to the next level? Contact us today at 507.281.3490 or sales@mltgroup.com.

 

 

3 Key Elements of Effective Web Development and Design

web developmentFor your business to grow and to effectively cater to your audience, they need to be able to easily find and communicate with you online. That’s why it’s so important to invest in quality web development. However, web development is made up of a variety of different elements, from the overall design and build to SEO and coding, sometimes making it difficult to see the bigger picture. However, almost everything can fall under three key elements which lead to effective web development and design. By using these elements to guide the different aspects of web development, you can ensure your website facilitates meaningful connections with your target audience.

 

1. Web Design With a Purpose

 

When you hear web development, you probably fist think of web design. After all, your site’s appearance significantly influences visitors. However, your web design should do more than just look good. When done right, web design can do a lot of heavy lifting for your site.

  • Guide Visitors- Visitors typically look at a site in an F pattern, starting in the upper left-hand corner and moving across the right and down. However, their attention doesn’t often last to the bottom right of your site. This means, the upper left-hand corner gets the most attention while the bottom right gets the least. Organizing the information on your site with this in mind helps you guide visitors to high priority information.
  • Highlight Priority Info- Speaking of high priority information, depending on your marketing goals, you can easily highlight what’s most important to your business. Trying to generate more leads? A well-placed contact form can help. Driving sales? You can highlight some of your top selling products or sales right on the home page.
  • Cultivate a Relationship- You can’t talk to your audience all the time, but your website can. Your site’s appearance can go a long way to cultivating a relationship with visitors. Everything from the way your site makes a visitor feel to what the images and content communicate makes an impression on them and lays the foundation for what will hopefully be a long-term relationship!

 

2. Effortless User Interface

 

Whether your site is simple or has a robust ecommerce, excellent user interface (UI) is essential. UI determines the way that software works for the customer and how they interact. Within your website, user interface may include icons or graphics, along with tables, animated elements, and buttons. Think of the way you interact with Microsoft Word or Facebook. To give the user a great experience, UI should be:

  • Clear- Users should understand how to interact with your site. It should be intuitive with clarification when necessary. For example, if the user hovers over a button and isn’t sure what it does, a small text box will appear with an explanation. Remember not to fall into the trap of over explaining!
  • Familiar- One way to ensure your UI is clear is to make it familiar. Use icons and graphics that mimic things visitors are familiar with, such has a shopping cart for their inventory or a chat box to talk with an online representative. This helps visitors jump right into using your site with little to no learning curve.
  • Responsive- Online users have little patience for slow sites. If your UI isn’t quick, visitors will go elsewhere. When visitors leave, or “bounce” quickly from your site, it not only loses you sales but hurts your SEO. Poor coding can contribute to a slow site, so make sure your code is clean.

 

3. Positive User Experience

 

When done correctly, web design and UI create a positive user experience, or “UX.” (Which is great for SEO) User experience is exactly what it sounds like, the way that visitors feel when interacting with a website. For example, does the customer find the website cluttered or clean? Are they able to easily navigate, and do they attach an emotion to the external aspects of the site? A positive user experience means visitors are more likely to stay on your site longer and return later! Here are a few tips for ensuring a positive user experience.

  • Don’t Expect Users to Remember- If there’s something particularly important you want users to see and use, such as a special offer, contact info, or promo code, make it easy for them to use it once they see it. When on a site, visitors are using their working memory, also known as short-term. Nothing is more frustrating than having to write down a promo code on a site so you can use it later. Instead, allow the promo code to automatically apply to their cart once they click on it!
  • Don’t Overwhelm Them- Your site has a lot to offer, but there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. If users feel overwhelmed on your site, they won’t find the information most important to them or they’ll leave. Instead, break things up so visitors can easily digest information. Also, visitors can get sensory overload which contributes to a poor user experience.
  • Be Personable- Remember, your site is a representative of your business and brand. Don’t be afraid to be personable and address your target audience directly using “you” language. For example, “You’re tired of products that make big promises but don’t deliver. You’re ready for something different. We’re here to help.” This helps to form a relationship, make users feel understood, and contributes to a great user experience.

 

Web development is made up of many tiny parts that, when assembled correctly, come together to make an amazing site for you and your target audience. It may seem complicated, but by using these three key elements a guide, you can ensure your site helps you achieve your goals.

 

Ready to get started?

 

The professionals at MLT Group partner with you to understand you, your business, and your goals, so we can create a website that meets your needs. We handle the nitty gritty, using industry best practices and overcome obstacles creative solutions.

 

Contact the creative team at MLT Group today at sales@mltgroup.com or 507.281.3490, for web development and marketing strategies that go above and beyond!

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Company Blog (Company Blog Examples Included)

A company blog can help you grow and market your business. It can also help establish your company as an expert in your industry.

Starting a company blog sounds great in theory, but when put into practice, you can experience many obstacles. These obstacles stop many businesses dead in their content marketing tracks.

To succeed, you need a sound content strategy and the right inspiration to follow through with it.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the right way to start a company blog, show you excellent examples of them using content marketing the right way, and provide extra tips to make your words stand out against the competition.

 

The #1 Reason Content Marketing Doesn’t Work For Most Businesses

Blogs are the primary engine when it comes to content marketing for most businesses. Why do some companies fail with their blogging efforts?

Simple, the company never answered this simple question:

What purpose do you want content marketing to serve?

Without the right answer to this question, you won’t build a solid strategy.

Without a solid strategy, you’ll get frustrated and wonder why your plans aren’t working.

If your plan isn’t working, you’ll give up on the process altogether because…you won’t have a clear reason why you shouldn’t give up. A guiding philosophy and purpose makes research, goal setting, and follow through much easier.

 

Step 1 – Develop a “Why” Behind Your Blogging Strategy

There are many solid reasons behind any content marketing campaign.

Here are a few different ones:

  • Thought leadership: Companies and innovative industries do well by establishing their expertise through content marketing
  • Product information: Many products, e.g., cameras, require lots of education before purchase. These companies can write posts to educate users on the features and benefits of their products
  • Helpful tips: Does your product or service do well with tips on using it effectively? Make your blog an educational resource
  • Entertainment – In certain industries, it pays to be interesting, humorous, and entertaining, e.g., media companies like  Buzzfeed and Elite Daily
  • Inspiration – It’s been said that “customers don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.” If your content and product/service can help them transform, your customers will become raving fans, e.g., Best Self Co, which sells goal setting and productivity journals

These are just a few of many potential reasons to start a blog. It’s important to choose one.

After you’ve spent some time finding your ‘why,’ you can dive in and do deeper research.

 

 

Step 2 – Research

Here’s a dumb question…do you know your audience?

Knowing your audience is key to creating a content marketing strategy that works.

All too often, though, many business owners rely on intuition and never research the way their customers interact with content online.

Customer research and keyword research can help you find the problems your customers are having. Great content solves problems. If you can identify their pain points, you can create compelling content they love.

Let’s break down each type of research.

 

Customer Research

Customer research involves finding out where your readers hang out online and what they’re saying about your industry, product, or service. There are many different places you can find useful information.

 

Quora:

Quora is a question and answer website. You can enter your topic into the search box and you’ll see question and answers on a variety of sub-topics. This is a result of the topic search ‘content marketing.’ This question can (and will be) an idea for a post you can write to answer questions from members of your target audience.

Amazon:

You can read reviews of products related to your industry on Amazon to find out what your customers want and need. You can also use their reviews to discover pain points your competitors aren’t addressing.

Look at this review of a marketing book on creating compelling messaging:

customer-research

This review tells us some customers want the information without selling too hard, which is an achievable — even an ideal — goal.

You can also use these options for finding out what your customers really want:

  • Forums
  • Reddit (search by subreddit)
  • Blog comments from industry blogs
  • Surveys

Keyword Research

If you plan on using your company blog to drive traffic and gain leads, you need to harness the power of SEO.

Keyword research is the bedrock of any SEO campaign.

It helps you:

  • Discover topics people are actively searching for
  • Find out exactly how many people search for different topics each month
  • Figure out which keywords you use to compete right away and  gain traffic

Keyword research is a topic that merits its own ultimate guides, and there are plenty on the web you can use to get started:

Once you have a sizable amount of keywords, you can move to step two.

 

Step 3 – Establish Goals For Your Company Blog

The goal of every business blog is the same right? Every company wants their blog to generate business.

Even though traffic, leads, and sales are the end goal for most businesses, there are multiple ways to get there, and setting the right qualitative and quantitative goals will help your business blog stay on track when it’s time to create the content.

 

Qualitative Goals

Qualitative goals are goals you can’t measure with numbers. It’s important to have these types of goals because they guide the way you create your content.

At MLT Group one of our goals is to give away our entire recipe for helping business owners succeed with digital marketing.

This means we create informative and detailed content you could use on your own. If you decide to work with us to put the strategies into practice, even better.

You can take the guiding philosophy — the ‘why’ — and use them to create goals.

Some examples based on the ideas above:

  • Create content on the latest trends in the industry
  • Write how-to content to educate readers on how to use your product
  • Create list-post with custom tips related to your product or service
  • Write content based on the hopes and desires of your readers

The goal here? Put some thought into the personality of your business blog.

 

Quantitative Goals

Good content marketing strategies always use numbers and data.

You want to set goals for these important benchmarks:

  • Conversions
  • Traffic
  • Frequency

 

Conversions

A conversion occurs when a visitor performs a desired action like joining your email list, calling, or filling out a contact form.

You want to set a conversion goal because they’re the end result you’re looking for. You need some measure of engagement.

How do you choose a conversion goal? You can use industry standards to start and measure your progress over time.

Most research says the average conversion rate is two to five percent. Choose a number that works for you.

Once you decide your conversion rate, you can decide the number of engagements you want per month. Enter your ideal number, e.g., 100 calls per month, and set your ideal traffic number based on that.

Traffic

Conversion dictates traffic, not the other way around. You don’t want to chase vanity metrics, so starting with your conversions makes your traffic goals simple.

If you want 100 calls per month and figure a two percent conversion rate, you’d need to reach 5,000 visitors per month.

You can create goals that ramp up from the beginning of your business blog journey to the end.

These sites include spreadsheet examples and calculators to help you figure out exactly what your goals should be month to month:

Frequency

Once you have your conversion and traffic goals set, choose the frequency for your writing schedule.

Best practices change for the website and blog. Th newer it is the more you’ll have to write to reach your goals.

Most experts suggest publishing three to five posts per week. In your case, use a number that works for you and is sustainable.

There’s no point setting a goal you or someone within your company can’t reach.

Step 4 – Follow Through With Your Plan and Write Your Butt Off

The newer your website, the more time it will take to gain traction with your company blog.

This is because newer websites have a lower Domain and Page authority, which are two important metrics used to rank websites on Google.

Content marketing is a compounding effort. The more you post on your company blog, build links, and promote your content, the easier it will be to rank for competitive keywords and topics because your site will be more authoritative. 

Company Blog Examples We Love

Examples provide unique insights you can use for our own business.

Here are some of the company blogs we love along with explanations for why their strategies are so effective.

Sumo.com

company blog sumo

Sumo is an email marketing software. The tool helps you drive new leads with the use of pop-ups, link-trigger upgrades, and more.

A company like this could just write about the features of its products, but Sumo chose to turn their company blog into a business school. 

Each blog post is a tactical guide that gives you step by step instructions to use a technique that helps you grow your bottom line.

Naturally, the strategies often involve using their product, but they write the content in a way that’s so useful and makes so much sense that mentioning their product doesn’t seem pushy at all.

They also provide a custom upgrade or offer as an incentive to join their list:

Sumo practices what it preaches, which isn’t something all marketing companies can say.

They also feature posts from the top experts in different niches of marketing like e-commerce and copywriting to publish some of the best marketing information on the web, period.

Top Posts From Sumo

 

Signal vs. Noise

signal-vs-noise-blog

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of the project management software Basecamp, started the Signal v. Noise Medium blog to share their, often counterintuitive, thoughts on business culture, tech, design, and more.

You could categorize Signal v. Noise as a thought leadership blog, but I doubt they’d find that appropriate.

Instead, they discuss what they believe is the truth about the industry. They’re not clamoring for likes and followers. They’re not trying to build a ‘personal brand.’

In fact, they reject most of the buzzwords and hyperbole that come with the industry and just tell it like it is. And they’re never afraid to have an unpopular or controversial opinion. Their authenticity helps them stand out and draws people to use their product.

Hence the name Signal v. Noise. Noise is the useless, albeit attractive, information in the world. Signal is the truth that drives real change. While most people get ‘shiny object syndrome’ and chase noise — tactics and trends — the team at Basecamp tries to do what works based on principles they’ve gained over time and through experience.

Top Posts From Signal v. Noise

Due

due-corporate-blog

 

Due is a payment processing company. Similar to our Sumo example, Due often publishes posts on topics different types of entrepreneurs — all of which need payment processing — might want to know about.

They also cover a wide range of topics about the financial industry.

This all-encompassing blog, which never promotes their product outright, brings in revenue and leads with this educational approach.

Top Posts From Due

Tips for Building a Popular Company Blog

Now you know how to create a content strategy for your company blog.

You’ve seen examples of popular business blogs.

To end this post, we’ll leave you with our best tips for building a blog that stands out and getting it in front of the right people.

  1. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth about your industry.
  2. Use humor. Company blogs don’t have to be dry and boring.
  3. Use tools like Buffer to share your content regularly.
  4. Curate content from other business blogs in the industry and share it on social media.
  5. Join communities and forums on places like LinkedIn and Facebook – participate first, share your stuff later.
  6. Whatever posting frequency you choose, stick to it. 
  7. Send a polite email to people you mention/link to in your posts letting them know how their content helped you.
  8. Think long term. Content marketing takes time.
  9. Find your unique selling proposition. Answer the question – what makes your business different?
  10. Write about topics that aren’t directly related to your industry, like this snack company did when creating a viral post about employee wellness. 
  11. Republish your posts on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn, and Thrive Global.
  12. Repurpose your content in different formats like Slideshare, Instagram posts, and video.
  13. Feature author bios for the writer(s) to give your posts a personal touch.
  14. If applicable, use guest contributors to outsource some of your writing and publishing.
  15. Have fun and create content you want to create, but readers also love.

Conclusion

Company blogs can be a major part of your marketing strategy. Like all good strategies, tools, and techniques, you get what you put into them.

If you’re dedicated, persistent, and willing to iterate, you can become a thought leader, grow your traffic, or achieve any other business related goal.

Does your company have a blog?

What strategies are you using to promote it?

Let me know in the comments.

How to Create a Digital Marketing Strategy for your Business

digital marketing strategy49 percent of businesses do not have a clearly outlined digital marketing plan. Are you one of them? Plenty of businesses use digital marketing techniques, but they are often not fully realized or consistently utilized. This results in time and money spent with lackluster results. However, utilizing an effective, fully fleshed out digital marketing strategy can boost your business’ site traffic, conversions, and help you better reach your target audiences.

 

Don’t throw techniques at the wall and hope for the best. Instead take the time to create an actionable digital marketing plan. Here’s how to get started:

 

Analyze: Before implementing a new plan, learn if and how your current digital marketing strategy is working and adapt accordingly. Begin by analyzing your current digital marketing strategies. Ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • What is the goal of your digital marketing strategy?
  • How do your current techniques help with your ultimate goal?
  • Are you reaching your target audiences?
  • What platforms are best for reaching your target audiences?
  • Which marketing channels are most effective for your business?
  • How do social media platforms factor into your marketing strategy?
  • Which techniques are working? Which aren’t?

 

 

Choose Your Metrics: There are plenty of metrics you can use to measure the performance of your digital marketing campaign, but depending on your ultimate goal, not all may be useful. For example, if you’re trying to boost traffic, you may want to focus on traffic sources and the rate of returning visitors over return on investment or conversion rates. Before starting your campaign, determine at least three metrics you’ll use to evaluate your campaign’s performance.

 

Engage Your Audience: Whatever your strategy includes, it’s important to engage your audiences. Engaging them helps to develop a relationship, build awareness of your business, and help drive sales. You can do this by connecting with your audiences on their preferred social media platforms, creating targeted content that connects to your audience, and making sure your message visible. You can also utilize ad campaigns to quickly get to the top of searches and entice your audience to visit your site. The better you engage your audience, the greater your online presence, and the more customers will find your business!

 

Evaluate: Don’t engage in digital marketing blindly. Evaluating your strategy, using your predetermined metrics, will help you determine what’s working, what’s not, and how you can improve. If your digital marketing strategy is not proving effective based on your chosen metrics, you should go back to the analysis step and determine why it’s not working. Are you targeting the right audience? Are you effectively reaching them? Are you using the right metrics to measure your campaign’s performance?

 

Get Professional Help Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy

 

Creating and executing an effective digital marketing can be a time-consuming process. Make it easy by getting help from the digital marketing pros at MLT Group. We’ll create a personalized digital marketing strategy based on your business, industry, and goals. Then, we’ll execute it, so you have more time to put towards your business.

 

Ready to get started with your digital marketing strategy? Don’t wait! Contact our friendly professionals at sales@mltgroup.com or (507) 281-3490 today!