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

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.

Franchise SEO & Website Design – The Big Fix

Everyone in America is familiar with franchises. They are represented on street corners coast to coast; McDonalds, 7-Eleven, Dunkin’, Great Clips, and hundreds more. From fast food to haircuts, and commercial cleaning to glass repair, franchises help meet a need for almost everyone at one time or another throughout each year. Their economic impact is fantastic, with those in the United States alone producing an output of nearly 800 billion dollars annually. In fact, franchises made up 10.5 percent of all US businesses in 2020 and employed over 8.5 million Americans.

Among businesses, franchise organizations have a unique component structure; a central licensing organization – the franchiser, often a large company with an entrenched corporate mentality, which supplies, supports, and collects fees from much smaller local businesses – the franchisees. The success of franchises across 295 industries attests to the benefits of this structure. In at least one area of the franchise world, however, there is an intractable struggle between franchiser and franchisee that often leads to marketing issues and lost opportunities.

That’s where we come in. At MLT Group, we have spent the last decade specializing in website design for franchise organizations and have become franchise SEO experts. In the process, we have assisted several national franchise companies to improve their digital marketing and have achieved outstanding ranking results for a plethora of franchisee sites. Now, for the first time, I’m about to tell you what we’ve learned, the not-so-secret problem in franchise SEO and marketing and the Big Fix that’s needed.

Number One: It’s important to recognize that franchise organizations want their franchisees to be successful. This desire is driven by economics and pride. Successful franchisees pay more fees to the franchiser and promote more interest among other potential franchisees. It is equally important to recognize that franchisers and franchisees don’t always share the same priorities. A franchisee sees business success as primarily defined by profit. The more business the better. A franchiser considers both profit and brand image to be paramount concerns. Which makes sense– the brand they have built is the foundation of their entire franchise organization.

Number Two: This misalignment in priorities frequently leads to problems for both franchisees and franchisers in the realm of digital marketing, with both groups struggling against one another rather than working in cohesive and collaborative harmony.

Concerns of the franchiser:

  • We need everyone to represent the brand consistently and accurately across all digital platforms. This is important to consumer confidence in the brand.
  • We worry that some of our franchisees lack the expertise in digital marketing to deliver our brand and messaging appropriately on their websites or on social media.
  • Even though digital marketing is most effective for service businesses when geo-targeted to the appropriate service area, our ability to assist hundreds of franchisees in producing digital marketing unique to their area and offerings is limited by budget and time.
  • Digital is more complicated and changeable than print, radio, or TV ads, making it harder to control from one central source.
  • Even though unique content is essential to search engine optimization, it is not feasible for corporate to write unique content for 400 or 1,500 separate sites, all explaining the same services.

Due to these concerns, franchise organizations often take the following actions which directly harm the digital marketing of their franchisees:

  • To control brand and messaging, they do not allow each franchise to have a unique “local” website and/or social media presence.
  • They do not allow each franchise to have its own unique domain name, preferring to house information about the franchise under the corporate “our locations” page or a URL like Bigfranchiseco.com/location_2463.
  • They may insist on franchisees using duplicate “boiler plate” marketing text for their websites, which is an SEO killer.
  • They do not accurately inform franchisees that the most effective way to rank on search engines is to have a unique local website with original content that is SEO’d and updated regularly.

Concerns of the franchisee:

  • Our local franchise needs to rank highly in search engines for the services we offer within our service area.
  • We need help to design, build, and populate a professional website and/or create an effective social media marketing campaign.
  • Our digital marketing efforts are limited by budget, available time, and lack of expertise in digital marketing.
  • We need a local web presence that is not owned by corporate.
  • Even though regularly posting unique website content is essential to search engine optimization, we do not have the time or expertise to create this content.
  • We want a robust social media campaign but do not have time to maintain it.
  • We want leads to come directly to us when potential customers find us online, not directed to us by corporate with fees or strings attached.

“Due to these concerns, franchise owners need their own unique local websites.”

Due to these concerns, franchise owners need their own unique, local websites. Many would also benefit from independent social media campaigns as well. Corporate can do a lot when it comes to buying online ad space for multiple locations or establishing a robust social media presence for the whole organization. Many franchise organizations maintain impressive social media campaigns, and for some, it can be enough for a franchisee to piggyback on these efforts. However, in terms of traffic and lead generation from Google and other search engines, there is no substitute for a robust local website for each franchise or major franchise market.

There are exceptions. Fast-food franchises, rapid oil change locations, car washes, and similar businesses do not need local websites. Due to the nature of their offerings, a central corporate website with locations pages is sufficient for these sorts of businesses.

“It is imperative for businesses to be  easy to find and easy to do business with.”

Companies providing services in people’s homes and businesses (cleaning, repair, remodeling, lawn care, pest control, etc.) need independent, local websites optimized effectively for Google and other search engines in order to achieve the best rankings possible. Solid rankings on search engines are the gold standard for being found, and the surest way to drive relevant traffic and leads. With an increasingly savvy consumer market, it is imperative for businesses to be easy to find and easy to do business with.

There are multiple benefits of an independent local website for a franchise. These include:

  • A unique domain name – important to franchise SEO and local marketing
  • A platform for unique content specific to the franchise’s services and service area
  • Ownership of the website for both control and as a valuable business asset
  • Results – a well-built and optimized local website will get better rankings and more traffic, leading to more leads and better ROI

“Corporate franchise organizations want their franchisees to succeed, however they have legitimate concerns about brand image and control.”

The Big Fix: Corporate franchise organizations want their franchisees to succeed, however they have legitimate concerns about brand image and control. The fix is to allow individual franchise owners to have their own local websites and to offer them trusted vendors who can provide quality digital marketing services that meet corporate brand expectations. Moreover, putting some money into the solution via co-pays helps the franchisees feel they are not bearing the burden alone. Additionally, the big corporate sites often have a good reputation with the search engines, so making sure to link from the corporate site to each independent franchise site provides powerful link juice. All of which lends itself to better franchise SEO, better Google rankings, more traffic, more leads, and better ROI. It’s a win-win that corporate franchise organizations need to understand and implement in the increasingly competitive world of digital marketing.

To learn more about professional franchise SEO services, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490 or sales@mltgroup.com today.

About the Author

Theo St. Mane is a partner and director of operations for MLT Group – Creative Solutions in Rochester, Minnesota. He has over 30 years of marketing experience and has spoken at national and regional conventions of franchise groups. He has also consulted on digital marketing for a variety of national franchise organizations since 2012.

 

Unpacking Google’s Guidance for the New Mobile-First Index

There’s been a significant development in today’s internet. While it looks the same, how we find and access the billions of pages on the internet has changed.

That change is “mobile-first indexing,” and Google’s been testing and slowly rolling it out for a few years. Now, finally, mobile-first indexing is being applied across all of the webpages that Google indexes. Because Google is BY FAR the most common starting point for consumers on the internet, it’s a tectonic shift in access.

Unless you already pay attention to trends in search engines, this might be the first time you hear about mobile-first indexing.

Read (or scan!) on for a jargon-minimum unpacking of this big change in the internet.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Later on, we’ll explore what Google’s mobile-first index means in more detail. Here’s what you need to know right away:

  • If your website is newly created since July 1, 2019, you’ve started out under Google’s mobile-first indexing.
  • If your website is older than July, 2019, then if you haven’t already been added to mobile-first indexing, you will be this month (September 2020).
  • If your website is not optimized for mobile access, you absolutely must update your website. You’ll be left behind in the dust of search results if you don’t (not to mention the website will simply not be easily usable).

Many sites have already been added to mobile-first indexing – including ours, which was integrated to the new system in 2018. The system’s been slowly rolling out for a few years now.

You can confirm your site’s indexing crawler on your site’s page on Google Search Console.

 

But now it’s here for everyone, regardless if you pay attention to the Google webmaster and developer guides or not.

Mobile-first indexing will be old news for some, but if you’re a business owner or otherwise run a website and you’re NOT familiar with the latest developments, scan this post! We’ll break down the need-to-know info about mobile-first indexing for the non-developers of the world.

What Is Indexing?

“Indexing” is one part of the process Google undertakes to organize and present to you the billions of pages of content on the internet. The process goes like this:

  1. Crawling: A Google program, affectionately named “Googlebot,” scours the internet by hopping from link to link to link. Googlebot finds pages on the internet.
  2. Indexing: Once found, a page will be indexed. That means Google stores information about that page: what’s on it, what’s it doing, etc.
  3. Ranking: Based on all the information gathered, Google’s algorithms rank the pages in the index whenever you enter a search term. These are your search results.

The above are the basic workings of Google’s search engine.

 

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Previously, Google looked at the desktop version of your website when it crawled and indexed all the pages on your website. (Special aside: Google does not index and rank websites; Google indexes and ranks webpages.)

Now, Google is indexing the mobile version of your webpages and using that information to rank your webpages.

That means if you haven’t paid much attention to your mobile site, then you need to now—because that’s the one Google is paying attention to!

Real quick – why make this change? Since October of 2016, most internet traffic has originated from mobile devices. Sound surprising? It did to this humble writer, but think of all the simple questions you ask Google, or how often you’re waiting for some appointment and you’re browsing Facebook or (like me) reading obscure corners of Wikipedia. Or you’re out and about (in that pre-pandemic world) and searching for a place for lunch or dinner. Much of the casual queries and social media use and shopping occurs on mobile. That all adds up.

Because the internet is mostly accessed on mobile devices, and Google has an all-important directive to provide useful search results, Google now effectively ranks mobile sites rather than desktop sites. Google wants to provide the best internet experience possible, and that won’t happen by pointing someone on a phone to a site that can’t run well on their device.

 

Why Should I Care about Mobile-First Indexing?

OK, so the nerds at Google have shifted around how their internet-sorting thingamajigger works. Who cares?

Here’s what’s most important to understand and why you should care about this process:

Google controls your internet.

Google and its related properties receive over 90% of internet traffic.

Google has decided that it’ll use the mobile version of your site to rank search results. If your mobile site is clunky, un-usable, or even just under-optimized, then you’re starting the race for search traffic about a mile behind your competitors.

Essentially, if you don’t play by Googles rules, your site will not be easily accessible in search results. If you care about search at all, you need to care about the mobile version of your site.

Is My Site Ready for Mobile-First Indexing?

Unless your site is older than a few years, it’s pretty likely you’re already under mobile-first indexing. Regardless, you need to make sure you’re adhering to the best practices for mobile-first indexing.

Simple details follow, but here’s the big picture for what you need to do:

  • Ensure your website is uniform no matter what platform it’s accessed on (whether desktop, mobile, or tablet).
  • Ensure that your website is functional and easily usable no matter which platform it’s accessed on.

These are the main principles of the best practices as given by Google themselves.

A lot of their best practices can be boiled down to have a responsive design for your website. “Responsive design” means your website’s design adjusts itself depending on the size of the screen accessing it—so it’ll look uniform and coherent whether it’s a smart phone or a desktop connecting to your site.

There are also some more in-the-weeds aspects of web development and design that should be attended to. For example, the meta data and descriptions must be consistent between the mobile and desktop versions of your site. Other more technical parts of your site like structured data must also be consistent.

There’s a lot that needs to be checked if you’re trying to ensure your website is ready for mobile-first indexing. The easiest way to give a general check-up might just be to pull up your site on your phone or tablet:

  • Does the website still load quickly and smoothly?
  • Is the content (the text) all the same as the desktop version, and is it easy to read on a small screen?
  • Can you easily interact with the different menus and buttons?
  • Do images and videos still load effectively?
  • Are any ads on the site integrated without being too in-the-way?
  • Can you still find parts of the site easily?
  • Do all the links still work?

That’s a quick and dirty check-up on the mobile health of your website—a very important check-up under the new Google indexing system.

Ensure Your Site Is Usable and Beautiful on Mobile

Want to learn more about responsive design for your website? Need a check-up to ensure your website’s good to go for the future? Contact MLT Group today!

 

Are Google Ads Worth It?

Are Google Ads worth it? Yes, but…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Basics of Google Ads

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

It’s Not All About the Clicks

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Stitching PPC and SEO Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#1 – Build and Submit a Sitemap

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Have a WordPress site? Use a plugin.

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

 

Screaming Frog

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

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

 

xml-sitemaps.com

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

 

Uploading and Submitting Your Sitemap

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

 

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

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

 

Submit the sitemap file to Google and other search engines.

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

 

#2 – Keyword Research

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

Relevance

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

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

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

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

Search Volume

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s even easier to rank highly for!

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

 

 

#3 – Optimize Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write these to be informative and compelling.

 

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

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

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

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

The point:

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

Do not repeat keyphrases between these pages.

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

 

Headings

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

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

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

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

 

What’s Next? Backlinks and Content

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

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

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

  1. Content.
  2. Backlinks.

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

The problem?

Both take lots of time to do well.

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

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

Backlinks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After DIY SEO

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

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

 




Essential Guide to Performing a Technical SEO Audit

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




 

What Is Technical SEO?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Five Steps to an Effective Technical SEO Audit

 

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

 

1 – Find All the Technical Errors

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Here are some examples:

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

2 – Check All Security Features

 

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

 

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

 

3 – Test Website Load Time

 

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

 

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

 

4 – Analyze Content and Keywords

 

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

 

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

 

5 – Check for Mobile Friendliness

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Free Website Audit

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

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




Manufacturing Marketing Essentials: How to Develop an SEO Strategy

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

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

The problem:

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

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

  • Keyword Research
  • Content Creation
  • Backlinking and Citations

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

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

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




 

Keyword Research for Manufacturing Marketing

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

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

Long-Tail Keywords

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

 

 

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

Let’s take an example relevant to manufacturing:

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

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

 

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

 

Think about the people behind these searches:

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

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

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

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

 

Competitor Analysis

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

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

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

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

Content Creation

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Content That Helps You Rank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Backlinks and Citations

A Brief Explanation and Example

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example from one of our clients:

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

 

 

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

 

How to Get Backlinks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SEO for Manufacturers

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

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

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

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




 

SEO Question of the Day: Which Kind of Hits Does Google Analytics Track?

Which kinds of hits does Google Analytics track

Which kinds of hits does Google Analytics track?

This is a simple question on the3 surface that has many different answers.

Google Analytics is a software created by Google to track different user metrics on your website. Many marketers and business owners don’t use GA to their full benefits. Doing so can give you insights you can use to grow your traffic, build your brand, and leapfrog your competition.

If you want to talk one on one with one of our SEO experts about analytics tracking, reach out to us below:




If you’re looking for an in-depth answer to the question  “Which kinds of hits does Google Analytics track?” Keep reading.

Google Analytics Explained

The Google Analytics tool has a menu you can use to look for different metrics about your website traffic.

This is just one of the sections you can use in the tool to get useful data.

You can go into quite a bit of depth into how Google Analytics works, but for today, we’ll focus on the most important and easiest to understand metrics.

Google Analytics Acquisition Channels

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic measures people who visit your website directly by entering a page on your website into a browser. Quick example, if you shop on Amazon, you give Amazon a direct visit when you type in amazon.com.

The question is, what do you do with this data and how can you use it to improve your traffic?

When looking at direct traffic, here are some things to consider:

  • Watch growth over time – If your direct traffic is growing over time, it could mean that your brand recognition is growing. The more you promote your business, the more people will come back to your website because they already know your brand.
  • Understand your business – If you are a company that does not have repeat business, this metric might be less useful than it would be for a business that relies on brand recognition for repeat business.
  • Watch relationships – You can analyze whether or not the organic traffic you receive from Google keeps pace with your direct traffic. If it does, it means your site isn’t just attracting search traffic, but converting it into repeat visits.

Organic Search Traffic

Organic search traffic is one of the top measurements you can use to judge the success of your SEO campaign. While you can’t predict the future, it’s safe to say you want your organic traffic to grow over time. You can analyze organic search traffic in many ways.

Here are some of our best recommendations:

  • Geography – If you run a local business or a service area business, you can track which region of the country your search traffic is coming from.
  • Top pages – In Google search console, you can check which pages receive the most organic traffic and which keywords they rank for. You can use this information to improve your website pages, which will increase your overall organic search traffic over time.
  • Timelines – Data takes time to make enough sense to make smart decisions. It also takes time for pages to rank on Google. With our clients, we measure organic search traffic quarter over quarter, which is a good length to get more reliable data.

average age of page one rankings chart

 

Referral Traffic

Referral traffic measures the number of people who visit your website from other websites that link to your website.

You could use this data to find the following insights:

  • Backlink quality – Backlinks from other websites build your site authority. The best backlinks also provide referral traffic. You can analyze which backlinks drive the most traffic and copy what you did well to acquire that link when trying to acquire new ones.
  • Promotion techniques – There are many promotion techniques you can use to get referral traffic like posting a thoughtful comment on a blog in your niche. You can measure how much traffic you get back from this and other techniques to refine your promotion strategies.
  • Site behavior – If you notice the referral traffic you get doesn’t stay on your site for long, you can make the pages they land on more attractive. If you notice they do stay on your site but don’t convert to leads, you can improve the conversion rate of those pages by adding forms, calls to action, and even media

Social Media Traffic

This metric is pretty self-explanatory, but it can be analyzed in different ways:

  • Channels – Note which channels drive the most traffic. Double down on the ones that work first, then seek to improve your other platforms
  • Ad tracking – If you want to know how well your social media ads are working, you can add custom tracking codes to measure the performance of your campaign.
  • Overall traffic – If you find yourself spending a lot of time with social media promotion, but not getting the traffic you want, you can adjust your strategy or focus more on strategies that move the needle.

Paid Advertising

Google also tracks traffic from paid advertisements.

You can use insights from other portions of Google Analytics to make changes like

  • Behavior metrics on landing pages you’re sending ads to
  • Boosting new pages with Ads to increase traffic
  • Increasing the ad quality for better conversions.

Google Analytics Behavior Metrics

Google and other search engines measure behavior metrics to index and rank websites.

This makes sense. The search engines want to present the best results possible. Knowing what turns visitors on and off can help them make better decisions. With Google updates like ‘Rank Brain‘ and the fact that search engines use AI and machine learning to understand sites, these metrics will grow in importance over time.

Here are some of the behavior metrics Google Analytics measures and how they relate to the SEO success of your website.

Bounce Rate

A ‘bounce’ happens anytime someone visits a page on your website and leaves right away. Search engines use bounce rates to answer the question “Do people like and want to view the content on your site?” A high bounce rate tells them “no” which lowers the value of your website pages.

Some of the reasons for a high bounce rate are:

  • Site performance – If your site doesn’t load quickly or has other technical issues, this will increase your bounce rate and harm your SEO results.
  • Mobile friendliness – More people use Google search on their phones than desktops. If your site isn’t mobile optimized, people won’t use your site on their phone. This is a website development and SEO  best practice you must following in 2019.
  • Content – The content on your pages need to compel users to engage. To increase time spent on your site you can rewrite the content, add media, and improve design elements of your pages.

Average Session Duration (Time Spent on Site)

Each time someone visits your website, it counts as a ‘session.’ Average session duration measures how long someone stays on your website. Usually, the longer the better, but the type of page you’re trying to rank does come into play.

For example, for something like a simple service page where the visitor lands on it and does the desired action like fill out a form or call doesn’t need a long session duration.

If you’re trying to rank an in-depth blog post you wrote, you’ll want to see a decent time spent on page, at least two minutes or more.

Here are some things you can do to improve the time spent on the page:

  • Improve your copy – Omit needless words and help people find the information they need faster and earlier on
  • Site performance – Many of the site performance issues that cause high bounce rates also drag down your average session duration
  • Content – You shouldn’t just create content. You should analyze how that content performs. If you notice certain types of content create longer sessions, consider changing your strategy and writing content that relates to your top performers.

Number of Pages Visited

In general, you want to see that visitors are visiting multiple pages on your website. In Google’s eyes, this means you’re providing quality information and have a good internal link structure, which just means you’re linking between pages on your website in a way that makes sense to search engine crawlers and helps your visitors find the information they need in a simple way.

Again, if you are driving traffic to something like a sales page, you might not want visitors to view multiple pages on your site.

If you have a site that this metric matters for, here are some ways to improve it:

  • Internal linking – You should always link between relevant pages when it makes sense for the user. Adding internal links is an art. You want to create a situation where visitors want to visit multiple pages because you create content that relates to other content on your site. Check out the wiki strategy by Nat Eliason for a deep dive on this topic.
  • Link depth – Many experts say no content should be more than 3 clicks away. Some debate whether or not this is true. In general, though, you don’t want to bury pages on your site, or worse, create orphan pages — pages with no internal links to it.
  • Site navigation – Your site navigation should be simple and easy to understand. That way, visitors know where to find your most important content regardless of what page you’re on. If you have a site with a deep linking structure such as an e-commerce site, consider creating a ‘breadcrumb’ navigation that shows people the steps they took to reach the page they’re on.

Google Analytics Conversion Tracking

While traffic is a good metric, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Getting people to visit your website is the first step. The second step is getting those visitors to do what you want.

This is where conversion tracking comes in. Google analytics allows you to track different behaviors people take on your site that matter to your business like:

  • Sales – If you have an e-commerce business, you can track how many sales you receive and from which channels. This can help you get exact ROI numbers for your marketing.
  • E-Mail List Signups – Email marketing can help you get more sales and grow your brand over the long term. Conversion tracking can help you figure out which pages drive the most sign-ups.
  • Contact/Request a Quote Forms – You can also set up conversion tracking to see what percentage of people reach out for more information after they visit your website.

So, what should you do with conversation tracking to improve your marketing?

Pay attention to the data. You want to know how well your website pages are converting. Your conversion rate is the number of times people perform the desired action divided by the total number of people who visit the page.

Take a look at this chart for conversion rates across all websites and visit this page for data based on industries:

conversion rate by industry

A two percent conversion rate is good. A five percent conversion rate is great. Conversion rates of 10 percent or more are amazing.

For an in-depth look at conversion rate optimization, some good resources are:

conversion rate optimization

Conclusion

As you can see, the answer to the question “Which kinds of hits can you track in Google Analytics?” has many different answers and insights.

The key isn’t the insights themselves, but the process of actin on them.

If you work with MLT Group, you’ll get data-driven SEO by an expert agency and team who will use those insights to not just grow your traffic, but your business as a whole.

Want a free SEO analysis and marketing proposal in 48 hours or less? Just fill out the form below:




 

Manufacturing Marketing: How to Promote Industrial Companies the Right Way

manufacturing marketing

Manufacturing marketing has a ton of room for growth and potential.

Why? Because most manufacturers, machining companies, and engineering companies aren’t great at marketing their own businesses.

This is understandable.

If you work in or own one of these types of businesses, you know this truth: time is of the essence.

You have to meet deadlines, make sure your operations are efficient, and constantly monitor the output of your facilities. Although many of the employees in your business may be knowledgable enough, they just don’t have the time to do things like create content, run PPC ads, promote the business through social media and other marketing channels, or keep track of SEO data to keep growing traffic.

So what’s the best manufacturing marketing solution?

How Agencies and Manufacturers Can Work Together

From time to time, we publish industry-specific guides like our post about real estate SEO.

We write these guides because we’ve gained expertise in working with these types of companies. In the past 18 months, we’ve worked with several companies in the manufacturing space in areas like precision machining, stud welding, and industrial services.

We’ve found that while different strategies are always needed for each individual business, manufacturing companies have some similarities when it comes to growing their business with SEO

Competition

Niches like marketing and SEO are very competitive. Often, you need to create insanely in-depth content and promote the “you know what” out of it to get your content to rank on search engines.

This isn’t the same for manufacturing companies.

We use a tool called Ahrefs to measure how competitive certain keywords are. Take a look at these screenshots from the tool showing the large difference between the keywords in our niche and the keywords in the manufacturing niche.

keyword research example

keyword research example 2

You still have to use a solid strategy to rank, but there is a pathway to getting a great amount of traffic with a little bit of persistence.

Content Depth and Quality

Often, the type of content that works well in a manufacturing marketing campaign has both depth and quality.

Studies have shown that content length is a ranking factor for SEO:

This is especially true for manufacturing companies because:

  • Many manufacturing techniques, machinery, and processes require an in-depth explanation to understand
  • Each type of term or phrase used often counts as an LSI keyword, which is a fancy way to say a secondary keyword. In-depth content x industry jargon = a keyword rich piece of content
  • Most companies who write content for their blogs in the space write thin content, meaning writing in-depth content can help you stand above and beyond the crowd

The Need for a Smart Agency

Most manufacturing companies can benefit from using an agency because of their lack of time to market the business.

Interestingly enough, many companies are convinced an agency can’t help them because they’re not technical experts. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

First, we have a staff of copywriters, many of which focus solely on writing technical content.

Second, we listen. Proper SEO discovery and studying resources can lead to a content campaign that meets SEO needs and maintains technical quality.

Last, we’ll go the extra mile to make sure we understand your business. If that means coming to take a tour of your plant, meeting key employees, and scheduling calls for content until we have the perfect content recipe, that’s what we’ll do.

In the beginning, there is usually some back and forth to get the technical terms right, but after that, our content doesn’t need much editing on your end to be worth publishing.

Want to see how we can improve your website? Fill out the form below for a FREE site audit!




So what are some of the components of a successful campaign?

On-Site SEO

On-site SEO is the process of adding keywords — words people use on Google searches — into important areas of your website like:

  • Page title
  • Page content
  • Image file names
  • Alt tags
  • Anchor text for links

The terms themselves aren’t that important.

It’s important to know that your entire website should be covered for SEO. This is especially true for manufacturing companies who run an e-commerce business.

Each product and category page on your website should have on-site SEO as well as keyword rich content on that page:

on-site SEO example

If you have a larger website, it may take time and money to create content for each and every category and product on your website. Often, we work with companies with large inventories by adding content to a handful of pages to start and gradually add it and boost their SEO with a monthly content creation package.

This way, you can dip your toe into marketing without breaking the bank and steadily grow over time.

Content Marketing For Manufacturing Companies

So why type of content should you create if you want to make a splash as a manufacturing company?

Content marketing for manufacturing companies usually follows a few simple rules of thumb:

  • Keyword researched topic – Some manufacturing topics get a high amount of traffic, some don’t. We focus on finding a balance between high-traffic keywords and competitive level.
  • Industry expertise – It’s good to establish a niche and focus on creating content in a narrow area first then going broader over time, e.g., a precision machining companies focusing on aerospace machining to start then branching out to something like medical devices.
  • Persistence – Creating a large volume of work over time leads to compound rewards. As pages get indexed by Google, they start to rank for more and more keywords.

We provide free marketing proposals and consults that walk you through just the type of content we will create and how it will benefit your site. Each proposal is custom-researched with no cookie-cutter components.

Enter your information into the form below and we’ll have a proposal to you in 48 hours or less:




 

Website Authority

Website authority factors into search engine rankings.

What is website authority?

Google uses links from other websites to yours to measure the quality of your site.

Each link to your site, called a backlink, is like that site ‘voting’ for yours.

So how do you get more votes?

There are a few different ways we’ll show you:

  • Directories
  • Outreach
  • The rich get richer strategy

Directories

Google likes links from high-quality business directories. They are also a huge part of local SEO.

Manufacturing has many quality directories you can submit your site to like Thomas Net:

manufacturer directories

 

Industry-specific directories provide the following benefits:

  • Topical relevance – Getting backlinks from strong websites matters, but so does getting backlinks from industries in the same niche.
  • Reputation – High reputation directories provide more authority than low reputation sites. Manufacturing has many high-quality directories to choose from
  • Real business – Often, you can actually get sales from these directories as customers actually use them to find products and services.

You can also use local directories and general business directories, which help build your authority by:

  • N.A.P – The more times your name, address, and phone number shows up on the web, the better. These are known as citations
  • Local signals – If you do have a local manufacturing business or a service area business, using these directories can help with local SEO
  • Reputation – Google loves industry-specific directories, but it also loves gold-standard general and local directories like chambers or commerce and websites like Localeze.

SEO Outreach

On top of adding your business to quality directories, you can use outreach to get quality backlinks.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Create stellar content – Your content needs to be worth sharing to get backlinks
  • Find related websites – Many websites in the space keep resource lists and link pages. Finding them is as simple as doing a Google search like “precision machining + resource list”
  • Pitch – Send a custom email to each site telling them why your content is great and how it will benefit their website to link to your content

The last point is key. It’s easier to land a backlink if your content adds value to other websites. Google uses outbound links as a ranking factor, too. They want to see that pages link out to other sites and get links back.

They want this because it shows your site is a “resource hub” that makes a good faith effort to give users the right information. Having this mindset when creating and pitching your content makes a huge difference.

Of course, we keep this in mind when we do outreach for you. Just talk to us and we’ll show you exactly how we work.

The Rich Get Richer

Once your pages rank higher, it’s easier for them to stay there.

Often, pieces of content on page one naturally get backlinks.

Think about it.

If you write an article and need to cite sources, you go to Google.

Then, you find the best article on page one to link to.

As your content ranks high on Google, you can improve it to get even more traffic by:

After you establish some top ranking pages, you can create more content and link between old and new pieces of content to spread around ‘link power.’

Other Manufacturing Marketing Ideas

We always consider content marketing and SEO the bread and butter for marketing any business. But after you establish yourself on Google, you can use other channels for marketing, too.

Adding more marketing channels leads to more growth.

They can also help your SEO efforts because Google measures user experience, too. A great example is having videos on your site to increase ‘dwell time.’

Here are some other great marketing channels you can use.

Video

Do you have company videos or instructional videos on how to use your technology?

They make a great addition to your campaign because data shows that people like to have more than one medium to enjoy the content.

This video is a great example a manufacturer could draw from:

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is a bit more complicated than figuring out how much you are charged per click, but it can be a worthwhile investment if done the right way.

Often, we use PPC campaigns at the beginning of an organic SEO campaign.

This option is great for companies who want fast results and a quick way to establish ROI on their marketing efforts. Organic SEO takes time to kick in:

average age of page one rankings chart

If you want tangible results asap, try a PPC campaign.

Social Media Marketing

Is social media marketing a great route for marketing manufacturing?

It can be if done right.

You can use social media to highlight the quality and innovation of your company. It’s a great way to show how your company grows their expertise over time.

Some great social media marketing ideas in this space are:

  • Technology – Anytime you create a new technology or process, create a press release and share it on social media
  • Conferences – Sharing insights gained from attending conference works well on social media. Turn this to a video format for even better results
  • Employees – Highlight employee achievements shows you’re a forward thinking company who helps smart employees grows. It also makes your employees feel good about themselves. Win-Win.

Conclusion

The manufacturing space has a ton of SEO and marketing potential.

It’s one of the few unsaturated markets out there.

Take advantage of these opportunities and you can grow your traffic, business, and brand all at the same time.